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Home News and Update Year 2010 Cervical Cancer Stalking Women In Kolkata

Cervical Cancer Stalking Women In Kolkata

Times of India
09 September 2010
By Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey & Prithvijit Mitra
Kolkata, India

At least 70% women in the city, who are sexually active, are suffering from some kind of cervical disorder, reveals an alarming study by city oncologists.

Cervical Cancer Stalking Women In Kolkata
The study indicates that many of these cases have the potential to develop into full–blown cervical cancer. Cervical and breast cancer patients together account for around 60% of female cancer patients in Kolkata.

"Till recently, cervical cancer had been more prevalent in rural and semi–urban areas where hygiene is an issue. Since the human pappiloma virus (HPV) – which triggers cervical cancer – is sexually transmitted from men to women, it has become lifestyle–dependent. With more and more younger women turning sexually active, a larger percentage of women are now at risk. This has been corroborated by the study which reveals that cervical cancer patients now comprise nearly 35% of all female cancer patients in Kolkata," said senior oncologist Subir Ganguly, who has been analyzing the figures.

The disease sets in with abnormal changes in the cervical tissue. The risk of developing these abnormal changes has been associated with certain factors that includes infection from HPV, which might be contracted through early sexual contact, multiple sexual partners, smoking and oral contraceptives, among others.

City doctors say that even a decade ago, they were more concerned about breast cancer. But now it is cervical infection/cancer that worries them the most. This is especially because HPV infection is completely curable and if detected and reported early, further damage to the cervical cells and cancer can be prevented.

HPV initially causes skin/genital warts and other abnormal skin and body surface disorders that have been shown to lead to many of the changes in cervical cells that may eventually lead to cancer. "At least 60% women who die of cancer in the city had cervical cancer. Today, girls in our city are getting sexually active at a very young age and are even involved sexually with multiple partners. Hence, we advise parents to get girls vaccinated right at the age of 13. We have noticed that the incidence of the disease is the highest in women between 13 and 26 years of age," said gynaecologist Subhas Mukherjee.

The HPV vaccine was touted as a magic preventive, but it ran into controversy following the death of six women in Gujarat earlier this year. A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research, Kolkata, conducted among HIV–positive women, reveals that the virus strains the vaccine neutralizes are not prevalent in eastern India. The yet–to–be published report says it could be ineffective among women in other parts of India too.

There are at least 100 different kinds of HPV virus of which 16, 18, 31 and 45 are the most harmful, say doctors. "Every sexually active woman should go for the PAP Smear test, which will tell her whether her cervix is infected. In the West, this has helped to comb the disease out, but this awareness is somehow not spreading here," said gynaecologist Gauri Kumra.

City doctors say that they get at least 15 to 20 patients a month who are already at an advanced stage of cervical disease. "A large number of them are schoolgirls," Kumra reveals. Rohit Gutgutia, another doctor, said the growing rate of infertility among women can be related to the rise of cervical disease.

Oncologist Gautam Kukherjee agreed. "Till a decade ago, we would associate cervical cancer with rural women and breast cancer with their urban counterparts. Now, cervical cancer is very much an urban disease, at least in Kolkata," said Mukherjee.

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