KATHMANDU: Every year, millions of women grapple with the threat of cervical cancer, a condition claiming the lives of 15 out of 100,000 patients in Nepal.
Early detection offers a promising cure, yet the prevalence of patients seeking medical intervention only in advanced stages has led to a surge in cases and a higher mortality rate.
Understanding cervical cancer, identifying its target demographic, exploring treatment options, and adopting preventive measures are crucial aspects in the battle against this formidable disease.
In a conversation with Dr.Binod Aryal, a gynecologist at Om Hospital, we delve into these vital topics.
Can you shed light on how to understand cervical cancer?
The uterus is divided into two main parts – the cervix and the body.
Human papillomavirus (HPV), primarily transmitted through sexual contact, can lead to cervical cancer if it persists in the body.
If the body’s natural immunity is compromised, and the virus lingers, it can result in the development of cervical cancer.
At what age is the risk of cancer more likely?
After entering married life, women who engage in sexual intercourse are susceptible to the human papillomavirus.
A healthy body with robust immunity usually fends off the virus.
However, if the body’s defenses are compromised, and the infection persists, it can lead to cervical cancer.
How can one identify if they have cervical cancer? What are the symptoms?
In its early stages, symptoms include pain during sexual intercourse, abnormal discharge, bleeding before and after menstruation, and lower abdominal pain.
Cervical cancer is a significant concern in Nepal. Can you elaborate on its prevalence and impact in the country?
Cervical cancer is the leading cancer among women in Nepal, with both the incidence and mortality rates notably higher compared to other countries.
In what condition can cervical cancer be cured if the patient seeks medical help?
Cervical cancer is staged into three levels. Treatment success is highest if patients seek medical attention during the first and second stages, allowing for comprehensive treatment, prevention, and surgery.
Unfortunately, if the cancer progresses to the third stage, where it spreads to other parts of the body, the chances of recovery diminish.
How do patients typically present themselves for treatment in Nepal?
Based on my experience and patient data, a significant number of patients seek treatment when the disease has already reached a complicated stage.
They often come to the hospital with severe pain, bleeding, and other complications.
By this point, the cancer has often spread, making the treatment more challenging, reducing the likelihood of recovery, and increasing the mortality rate. Early detection is crucial for a more favorable prognosis.
Could you provide insights into the recovery and death rates among patients who seek treatment for cervical cancer in Nepal?
The World Health Organization (WHO) advocates reducing the death rate from cervical cancer to less than four per million people.
Unfortunately, in Nepal, the statistics reveal a stark contrast, with an estimated 15 per lakh people succumbing to the disease.
This figure is based on treated patients, and there’s a possibility that some cases may go undetected, leading to underreported mortality.
What preventive measures can be taken to address this concerning trend?
Prevention strategies revolve around two key techniques: primary prevention and secondary prevention.
Primary prevention focuses on disease prevention, primarily through the use of the HPV vaccine.
This vaccine, already deployed in developed countries and available in Nepal, is administered to girls aged 9 to 15 twice, six months apart.
For those who haven’t received the vaccine by age 25 and have abstained from sexual intercourse, a three-time vaccination is recommended at the age of 25, offering a 90% chance of preventing cervical cancer.
Secondary prevention involves the detection of precancerous conditions through cervical fluid testing.
Women or mothers who have entered married life are advised to undergo this test at least once every three years, significantly contributing to cervical cancer prevention.
Could you elaborate on the treatment methods available for cervical cancer?
Once cervical cancer has developed, treatment modalities include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.
In the early stages (first and second), surgery alone can be curative.
However, if the cancer has spread beyond the cervix, a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy becomes the preferred treatment approach.
Early detection, preventive measures, and timely intervention are crucial in improving outcomes for patients battling cervical cancer.
After being treated once, how likely is it for cervical cancer to relapse?
The likelihood of a relapse depends on the stage at which the cancer is treated.
If treated in the initial stages, there is a complete cure, and the chances of recurrence are virtually eliminated.
However, if the cancer has advanced and spread to other parts of the body, the possibility of recurrence increases.
In conclusion, what suggestions do you have for women to mitigate the risk of cervical cancer?
Regular cervical screening is paramount for married women, and undergoing this examination at least once every three years can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
This screening facility is readily available in all hospitals across the country.
Additionally, it is crucial for girls aged 9 to 15 to receive the HPV vaccination to further safeguard against cervical cancer.
Taking proactive steps through screenings and vaccinations is key to maintaining women’s health and preventing the onset of this disease.