The Cervical Cancer Uprising!

Written by Dr. Veena Madhankumar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team

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If you are or have been sexually active at some point, chances are, you might or might not have had a little run-in with HPV (human papillomavirus). This one is a tough customer that can pop up any time after you do the deed, which means you have to watch out for the signs and do what you can to protect yourself (read HPV vaccines plus condoms). In all fairness, though, getting an HPV infection is not the end of the world and is certainly not unexpected; when your ordinary, run-of-the-mill HPV infection becomes a pain in the privates, you might want to take notice. Now ladies, unite! Because this one is for you.

1. Cervical Screening – Get it Done Already

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If you are a woman, this is probably a good time for you to get screened for cervical cancer and get the HPV vaccine if you have not done that yet. Why the excessive spotlight on cervixes? Well, the news is not the greatest – cervical cancer cases are on the warpath. Specifically, the number of women suffering from late-stage cervical cancer cases is rising. So, now is the time for that preventive approach to start.

2. Who Gets the Short Straw?

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It is a pretty raw deal for all women, to be honest, but the patterns are different. So if you look at the current issue, which is rising annual cases of advanced cervical cancer, the higher numbers point to white women living in the southern states of the USA. But among women who already have the disease at any given point in time (aka the prevalence), the trends lean toward Black and Hispanic women. In other words, all women everywhere, watch out for this deadly disease.

3. The Numbers Game

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If numbers are your fact-check guides, we have numbers for you. The study that tells us about the rising cases of advanced cervical cancer estimates a 1.3 % increase in cases, of which 40-44-year-old white women in the South saw a 4.5 % annual increase. Now for the truly devastating part – the five-year survival rate of advanced cervical cancer is 17 %. To put it succinctly, do not mess with cervical cancer.

4. The Preventive Deal

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You do not have to sell your soul to prevent cervical cancer. You just have to get your cervical cancer screening done on time, get the HPV vaccine, and get on board the safe sex bandwagon. It is just that simple. Ironically, the simpler the solution, the less appealing it appears somehow. The sudden shoot in cervical cancer cases proves this beyond doubt. Let this serve as a reminder that prevention is definitely better than cure. The five-year survival rate for cervical cancer diagnosed early is 90 %, which is a big step up from 17 %. Why would anyone willingly forgo that extra 73 % protection?

5. The COVID Calamity

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The numbers do not lie, but they also did stop in 2018. So, if you factor in the COVID crisis after 2018, the numbers are probably worse, given the limited access to healthcare services and lack of focus on routine health check-ups and screenings. If the previous trends are any indication, it only stands to reason that the trends during our crisis years (2020 onwards) are even less impressive, which means we gotta buck up and reverse the clock of carelessness.

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The onus is on all of us (men and women) to get the HPV vaccine and get screened (for women). Give HPV (and cervical cancer) a little goodbye wave, and get on with making waves in the world. You deserve the best, and so does your cervix.


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