Cervical Cancer: How to Prevent it?


Cervical cancer is a common yet preventable form of cancer that affects women worldwide. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and early detection and prevention methods can save lives. In this article, we will discuss how to prevent cervical cancer and raise awareness about this disease.

The Prevalence of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, with over 600,000 new cases and 340,000 deaths reported in 2020. In Pakistan, an estimated 73.8 million women above the age of 15 are at risk of developing cervical cancer due to HPV infection. Lack of access to prevention, screening, and treatment makes it the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Pakistan.

However, due to the lack of authentic data on the disease burden, eradicating cervical cancer in Pakistan becomes challenging. Organizations like Jhpiego Pakistan, in collaboration with the government and international agencies, are working towards implementing a roadmap for cervical cancer prevention and introducing the HPV vaccine in the country.

Early Detection and Screening

Regular screening is crucial for the early detection of cervical cancer. HPV and pap smear tests are the most effective methods of screening. These tests can identify patients at high risk of developing pre-cancerous changes on the cervix and detect those who have already developed these changes.

In Pakistan, the uptake of pap smears is incredibly low, estimated to be as low as 2 percent. To address this issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends performing a visual inspection of the cervix by acetic acid (VIA) as an alternative screening test, especially in low- and middle-income countries where resources for expensive tests are limited.

HPV Vaccination as Prevention

HPV vaccination is the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer. The WHO recommends three key interventions to eliminate cervical cancer: scaling up HPV vaccination, cervical screening, and treatment of pre-invasive lesions and invasive cancer.

In Pakistan, HPV vaccination is still not widely available or prescribed by doctors. However, introducing the HPV vaccine at a national level could save hundreds of thousands of lives annually. Efforts are being made to include the HPV vaccine in the routine immunization program, but it may take a couple of years and significant investments.

Despite the challenges in introducing the vaccine, it is crucial to increase public awareness about HPV, cervical cancer, and the vaccine’s safety and usage. Breaking the silence and stigma surrounding sexual health topics in conservative societies is essential for successful vaccination campaigns. Adequate knowledge and awareness are key to overcoming resistance and misinformation.

Take Charge of Your Health

Individuals must prioritize their health and not ignore any signs or symptoms. Regular health checkups and screenings, along with self-awareness, can help in the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer.

It is essential for healthcare professionals to be well-informed about cervical cancer and its causes, and for gynecological consultations to include thorough examinations, including pap smears and visual inspections. Patients should advocate for their health and seek second opinions if necessary.

By taking proactive measures and implementing widespread vaccination and screening programs, we can prevent cervical cancer and save countless lives.

Remember, your health is a priority, and early detection can be life-saving. Don’t hesitate to seek medical advice and raise awareness about cervical cancer and its prevention among your friends and family.


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