‘Cervical cancer’ is caused by ‘human papillomavirus’, know 10 important facts related to HPV

Human Papillomavirus Infection: Cervical cancer is the second most dangerous cancer affecting women in India. There are maximum patients of this cancer in the country. Every year around 1.25 lakh women are treated for cervical cancer. Not only this, more than 75 thousand people die in India due to this dreaded disease.

A large part of people suffering from cervical cancer i.e. more than 95% is due to Human Papillomavirus. According to a news channel, Dr. Gautam Wankhede, Director, Medical Affairs, Mylab Discovery Solutions, has given 10 facts about Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

1. Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV can be spread through skin-to-skin sexual contact. Therefore, sexual intercourse is not required for transmission.

2. Many sexually active women are vulnerable to this HPV. However, in 9 out of 10 women, this infection clears up on its own, which reduces the chances of cancer to a great extent.

3. There are more than 200 types of HPV, of which about 14 types are known to be most dangerous for causing cancer.

4. HPV 16 or 18 causes 83 percent of invasive survival cancer cases. It may take 15 to 20 years from coming in contact with the infection to the development of cancer. 4 out of 5 cervical cancer cases reported in India are due to infection with HPV types 16 and 18.

5. The most effective prevention strategy for cervical cancer is systematic screening of women, along with treatment and HPV vaccination.

6. Several screening methods are used for early detection and prevention of cervical cancer, such as Pap-smear, visual inspection with acetic acid, and HPV DNA testing.

7. DNA-based testing for HPV is believed to be more effective than other commonly used screening methods. In this testing, vaginal and cervical cells are tested for HPV DNA using polymerase chain reaction or PCR test. If the result is positive, further evaluation is needed for cervical cancer. But if negative, the chances of cervical cancer are almost zero. More importantly, the chances of developing clinical cervical cancer in the next 5 years are negligible.

8. Today there are such vaccines, which greatly reduce the risk of HPV. However, they do not neutralize the virus in people who are already infected.

9. Vaccination cannot replace cancer screening. Even if you have received the HPV vaccine, you will still need to be screened for cervical cancer.

10. All women between 21-65 years must have regular pap-smear done every 3 years. If a woman has an HPV DNA test, the testing gap can be extended to 5 years. 

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