What is cancer of cervix and how it occurs?
Cancer of the cervix, also the mouth of uterus or the lower most part of womb (where baby grows), Is easily accessible for examination by the gynecologist per vaginal examination. Cancer of cervix is probably caused by high risk strains of the human papilloma-virus (16,18,31,45 etc), a common sexually transmitted infection. In more than 90 percent of the infections, HPV clears up on its own, but in 10 percent of cases either cancer or genital warts develops. Multiple sex partners increases risk of HPV infection and the more partners the current partner has had, the higher is the risk that he will transmit HPV. Sexual and reproductive factors, socio-economic factors (education and income), viruses e.g., herpes simplex virus (HSV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other factors like smoking, diet, oral contraceptives are other important high risk cofactors in cervical carcinogenesis. Early age of marriage and early child bearing are contributing factor in our country.
The HPV virus causes cervix cancer was established by the research work of Nobel laureate Professor Herald Har Hassen, and this led to development of a vaccine for it . The HPV vaccine can prevent 70 percent of cancer cervix and current guildlines recommend immunization all girls is adolescent age groups i.e. before sexual exposure with 3 doses of HPV vaccine. During cancer development, the HPV viral particles get integrated with DNA of human nucleus resulting in mutation and rapid cancerous proliferation. This process cervical takes a few decades, for precancerous or cancerous changes to occur in cells.
What are the aims of cervical cancer screening and the available methods for it?
Screening aims are to detect cancer cervix the precancerous or early stages , when it is treatable. The Pap smear is the most widely available and effective method for this. Efforts are going on to develop an alternative cost effective method to suite low resource setting, to cater the vast population of developing poor countries. For this VILI /VIA/Low cost HPV DNA testing are being investigated in various research trials.
What is Pap smear? For a PAP smear of vaginal secretions and spreading on slide which is then ….. in the pathology laboratory and examined under the microscope by a trained pathologist to detect precancerous changes in the cells. It is well recognized , that widespread use of Pap smear can reduce cancer rate by more than 50 percent sd precancerous lesions are picked up and treated .
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