January is marked as “Cervical Cancer Awareness Month” around the globe. In a statement issued in this regard, Dr Tabinda Sadaf, Consultant in Clinical & Radiation Oncology at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore, said that we can save thousands of women in Pakistan by prevention, early detection and treatment of cervical cancer.
She said that this is one of the very few cancers that can be prevented if women get vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV). Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb) and is mostly caused by different types of HPV. These types of viruses are considered to cause the cervical cells to grow uncontrollably and develop into cancerous cells.
Commenting on the situation in Pakistan, Dr Tabinda said that Pakistan has a population of 68.6 million women aged15 and above who are at risk of developing cervical cancer.
The morbidity and mortality rates for cervical cancer are very high in Pakistan as this type of cancer is ignored in terms of screening, prevention and vaccination, resulting in patients’ reportingatvery advanced stages of malignancy.
Prevention of cervical cancer involves vaccination of young girls while secondary prevention includes cervical screening tests.Dr Tabinda said that girls above the age of 12 should get vaccinated against HPV and protect themselves from this disease. For older women,regular screening is the best way to identify abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix at an early stage.