January: Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
The World Observes every January, the cervical cancer awareness month. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In 2018, an estimate of 570 thousand women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 311 thousand women died from the disease, more than 85% of which occurred in low- and middle-income countries . Human papillomaviruses (HPV) is the lead cause of cervical cancer cases (99%) and is transmitted through sexual contact . There are more than 100 types of HPV, of which at least 14 are cancer-causing . It takes 15 to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop in women with normal immunity, while it can take only 5 to 10 years in women with weakened immune systems . Symptoms of early-stage cervical cancer include light bleeding between periods in women of reproductive age, postmenopausal spotting or bleeding, bleeding after sexual intercourse, and increased vaginal discharge, sometimes foul-smelling . According to WHO, primary prevention begins with HPV vaccination of girls aged 9-14 years, before they become sexually active . While sexually-active women should be screened for abnormal cervical cells and pre-cancerous lesions, starting from 30 years of age in the general population of women . Center of Disease Control (CDC) estimates that escalating HPV vaccination rates from current levels to 80 percent would prevent an additional 53,000 future cervical cancer cases in the U.S. among girls who now are 12 years old or younger throughout their lifetimes .
Sources: 1. World Health Organization. “Human Papillomavirus (HPV) And Cervical Cancer”. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/human-papillomavirus-(hpv)-and-cervical-cancer.
2. National Foundation For Infectious Diseases. “HPV Vaccines Prevent Cervical Cancer: The Message Is Clear”. https://www.nfid.org/2015/01/12/hpv-vaccines-prevent-cervical-cancer-the-message-is-clear/.