Categories: Gynaecology

Cervical Cancer: The Myths & The Facts

Cancer, despite all the advances medical science has attained over the years, is still an intriguing subject. It’s surrounded not only with fear but also with prejudices and false beliefs. Cervical cancer is no exception. Despite its widespread occurrence in developing countries like India, we don’t have programs to create awareness about the disease.

The first step towards creating awareness about any disease is to dispel the myths that surround it. Let’s examine certain myths that are associated with cervical cancer, bust them all and find out the facts. This way, it’s possible to shed light on cervical cancer and effectively create awareness about the disease.

Myth #1

An annual Pap test is mandatory. Well, the fact is that if your Pap test and HPV test are normal, there’s no need to opt for an annual Pap test. Certain cervical cancer guidelines prescribe Pap tests for women according to the age group they fall in.

Ages 21 – 29: Pap test once every three years

Ages 30-64:  Pap and HPV test once every five years

Ages 65 and older: Ask for doctor’s advice about whether you need to continue the tests or not

Myth #2

HPV is not common; it affects those with multiple partners; I don’t need to opt for the HPV vaccine or Pap test. It cannot be any further from the truth. HPV is widespread and it affects 80% of men and women.

Myth #3

HPV goes on its own. Not exactly! While in certain cases it does, it won’t be safe to make any such assumptions. There are cases in which HPV infection, persists resulting in serious health conditions such as genital warts and many other types of cancer.

Myth #4

I can’t become a mom now as I’ve had cervical cancer. During treatment, a patient undergoes a hysterectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy. But nowadays a lot of treatment options are available that can cure a patient without hampering her prospects of giving birth.

Myth #5

It’s hereditary. No. Unlike breast or ovarian cancers, cervical cancer doesn’t get passed down in the family. It’s caused by HPV and the best way to prevent it is to get vaccinated against it or doing regular Pap or HPV tests.

Myth #6

The cause of cervical cancer is unknown. The truth is that cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus, which is always sexually transmitted.

Myth #7

If you’ve HPV, you’ll get cervical cancer for sure. Not necessarily. There are over 100 strains of HPV virus and out of these only a few causes cervical cancer. In most cases, the body’s immune system gets rid of the virus within two years. However, in certain cases, the virus persists and causes the cells in the cervix to grow abnormally resulting in cervical cancer.

Myth #8

No screening is required for me as I’ve no symptoms. Abnormal cell growth doesn’t cause any symptoms. And to find out any anomaly, screening is suggested.

Remember, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent type of cancer that affects women. Taking preventive measures such as vaccination and periodical screening can help women to stay out of the reach of cervical cancer.

Dr. Rohit Raghunath Ranade, Consultant – Gynaecology – Oncology, Oncology, Robotic Surgery | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra

Narayana Health

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