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Cervical Cancer Prevention Strategies: A Guide to Protect Yourself

By Dr. Swasti in Cancer Care / Oncology , Gynecologic Oncology

Jan 19 , 2024 | 1 min read

Cervical Cancer is one of the most preventable and curable forms of Gynaecological Cancer. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women in India and also the second most common cancer in women between 15 to 44 years of age. Cervical cancer is caused by Human papillomavirus (HPV) in almost 99.7% of cases. HPV has more than 100 strains but 13 high-risk strains are known to cause precancers and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, oropharyngeal and anal region in women and of the penile, oropharyngeal and anal region in men. Low-risk HPV, such as types 6 and 11, cause genital warts and papillomas.

Cervical cancer is 100 per cent preventable cancer. 83.2% of cervical cancers are attributable to HPV types 16 and 18 alone.

Prevention of Cervical Cancer

Vaccination: Primary prevention is by HPV vaccination. The HPV vaccine protects against HPV-induced cancers. It makes the body's immune system aware of the HPV strains. When individuals are exposed to these HPV strains, their body clears them more effectively and efficiently. Girls are licensed to be vaccinated from 9 to 26 years of age and catch-up vaccinations up to 45 years. Boys in India are vaccinated between the ages of 9 and 26.

Individuals younger than 15 years are recommended for two doses of HPV vaccine 6 to 12 months apart. For patients over 15 years, three doses at 0, 2, and 6 months are recommended.

Two HPV vaccines, quadrivalent and nonavalent, are available and licensed for use in India. The quadrivalent vaccine CERVEVAC is manufactured by Serum Institute of India and works against HPV 6,11, 16 and 18.

The globally available GARDASIL-9 is the nonavalent vaccine available in India as well. This vaccine protects against HPV types 6,11,16,18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.

HPV vaccines do not replace Pap testing or cervical cancer screening. HPV testing is not necessary before vaccination. These vaccines have a good safety profile.

Apart from HPV vaccination, utilising safe sexual practices, reduction of multiple partners, 5yearly Pap and HPV testing and acceptance of biopsy of cervix whenever abnormal Pap smears are seen is the need of the hour. With these efforts and increasing awareness campaigns, we shall definitely reduce the number of new cervical cancer cases and deaths significantly.