Cervical cancer is preventable, yet 200 women die every day

Cancer is not a tragedy for the patient alone but for the whole family. Before breast cancer took over as the top killer in women, cervical cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in India. According to national data published in NCBI, India has a population of approximately 365.71 million women above 15 years of age, who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. The current estimates indicate approximately 132,000 new cases diagnosed and 74,000 deaths annually in India, accounting to nearly 1/3rd of the global cervical cancer deaths.
World renowned Radiation Oncologist, Prof. Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori, who was appointed as the International Director – Apollo Cancer Centres, Apollo Hospitals Group, shared, “I was an oncologist in India before I moved to the US. I have seen the incidences everywhere. In India, 200 women die of cervical cancer every day. It is not acceptable because it is preventable, detectable and effectively treatable if detected on time.

In America, many decades ago we were seeing about 120-130 thousand cervical cancer cases every year. Through legislation, screening and health education, we managed to bring it down to 8000 cases. It did not happen overnight. It happened over a period of three decades. During that period, Pap smear was also discovered.” Dr Nori has an international reputation of a pioneer as well as an authority in the field of cancer.

Talking about the advances in medicine, Dr Nori shared that the HPV vaccine for cervical cancer had three doses before but now there is a single dose vaccination available too.

So what we can do in India to eradicate this burgeoning problem? Dr Nori elaborates, “We don’t need 35 years in India like we did in the US. We can now condense the time period with the HPV vaccination, which we did not have before. More than 98 per cent of cervical cancers are due to HPV 16 and 18. So if we can get a vaccination early on, just like Polio, we can eradicate cervical cancer from India.”

Considering the heavy burden of cervical cancer in India, it is imperative to chalk out an appropriate response to this preventable cancer, either by making the vaccination an integral part of a woman’s health policy or by making regular pap tests and screening mandatory.

On a concluding note, Dr Nori said, “Hope we don’t see any cervical cancer by 2030. Give a woman the best chance to survive her God given full life.”
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