I would like to share a story about a 27-year-old lady named Devika, who was full of life, active, enthusiastic, lovable, sociable, and diligent. An adorable family loved to enjoy live, after she moved in with her boyfriend after a year she started having pain in her pelvis. She started bleeding after sex. As she was young she felt there was no need to go to the doctor. Ultimately when the pain did not stop she did visit the doctor. After a few tests and days of thorough checkups she her boyfriend was informed that she had CERVICAL CANCER. Devika decided not to take it lightly, went through Chemotherapy sessions, Radiation, 5 Internal Radiation treatments.
With her family’s support, she went through her treatment sessions bravely. She started advising people to get regular pap smears and screening done and to get the HPV vaccine so that people are not caught off-guard and the best way of taking these preventive measures.
Today, she tells young girls that they are not bad people to get cervical cancer and is ready to support and advise people suffering from HPV.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of related viruses. They cause warts on the different parts of the body. There are more than 200 types. About 40 of them are spread through direct sexual contact with someone who has the virus. They can also spread through other intimate, skin-to-skin contact.
Cancer is a term of disease in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. About 99.7% of Cervical Cancer are caused by genital high-risk human papillomavirus(HPV) infection.
CANCERS CAUSED BY HPV:
Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. Some cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are caused by HPV. Generally, when HPV stays in the body for many years that it can cause these cancers, and most of the time, HPV goes away by itself as the immune system fights off HPV.
SPREAD OF HPV:
One can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus.
- Commonly spreads during vaginal or anal sex.
- Also spreads when one has skin-to-skin touching through sex.
- An HPV-infected person can pass the infection even when there are no signs and symptoms.
- If a person is sexually active, can get HPV, even if you had sex with only one person.
- Sometimes after having sex with a HPV infected after years also a person can develop the symptoms.
WAYS TO AVOID HPV AND HEALTH PROBLEMS IT CAN CAUSE:
GET VACCINATED: The HPV vaccine can protect one against diseases caused by it. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective.
GET SCREENED FOR CERVICAL CANCER: Women, in the age groups of 21 to 65 should have regular screening done to prevent cervical cancer.
USE CONDOMS: Using condoms can lower the chances of getting HPV. Sometimes condoms may not protect the areas not covered with the condom.
Always use condoms if you have multiple partners.
SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL CANCER:
- Irregular blood spotting or light bleeding between periods in women in the reproductive age.
- spotting or bleeding postmenopausal.
- bleeding after sexual intercourse.
- vaginal discharge increases and sometimes there is a foul smell.
- pain in the back, leg, or pelvic region.
- weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite.
- swelling of a leg.
- other symptoms may arise depending on which organs the cancer has spread to.
HUMAN PAPILLPMAVIRUS VACCINE:
HPV vaccine is the first and only vaccination that helps people from getting the types of cancer associated with HPV strains. In the beginning, it was recommended only for girls and young women, but after a while boys and young men are also included. HPV vaccines are administered in many countries. The result is that HPV infection and related diseases, such as warts and precancerous lesions have reduced. More efforts are being made to educate the people on HPV vaccination, especially in low and middle-income countries. On account of the introduction of the vaccination better protection against HPV infections and fewer HPV-related cancer cases are expected.
HPV vaccines work better if given before one is affected with HPV. It’s better that girls aged from 9 to 14 years are vaccinated when they have not started the sexual activity. Even if vaccinated screening for cervical cancer is a must to identify and treat cervical cancer.
DIAGNOSIS FOR HPV:
Doctors are able to diagnose HPV infection by looking at warts. If genital warts are not visible a few tests are done, like—
- Vinegar solution test: when it is applied the infected area will turn white.
- Pap test: a sample of cells is collected by the doctor from the cervix or vagina to check for abnormalities.
- DNA test: is conducted on cells from the cervix.
TREATMENT FOR HPV:
Generally, there is no treatment for the virus itself.
The problems that are caused by HPV, there are treatments for it, like—
Genital warts can be treated with medication, if left untreated there are chances of warts going away, or staying or may grow in size or number.
Cervical pre-cancer can be treated. Before cancer develops, women who regularly get Pap tests and follow it up can be treated.
A few medicines are Salicylic acid, Imiquimod cream, Podofilox cream, Trichloroacetic acid. All these medications should be taken only on the advice of the doctor.
If these medications do not work, then the doctor might remove warts by freezing, burning, or surgical removal and laser surgery are done.
Other HPV-related cancers can also be treated if diagnosed and treated early.
AWARENESS ON HPV:
Public awareness on HPV is generally very low. We are not aware of the symptoms, diagnosis, and the treatment pattern. People are confused about the types that cause warts and the types that cause cancer. Women are also confused that this disease can be sexually transmissible. Hence people especially women should be properly educated about this disease. With the help of healthcare workers and through the media sources of information can be shared about HPV.