Listen to your body, it could save your life - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Listen to your body, it could save your life

ByHindustan Times
Jan 06, 2023 05:24 PM IST

The article has been authored by Dr Meenu Walia, medical oncologist with 30 years of medical experience.

I distinctly remember Veena (name changed), a 48 years old, well-educated lady, came to my OPD with complaints of abnormal bleeding per vaginum on and off for a year. I immediately asked her, what took her so long to report it to a doctor? I was astonished by her polite reply that, “I asked my friends, they said it happens sometimes in this age…don’t worry”. Needless to say, further investigations were done and it was confirmed that she was suffering from an advanced stage cervical cancer.

Foul smell and abnormal discharge: Do not ignore these alarming signs as these symptoms may be of cervical cancer.(Shutterstock)
Foul smell and abnormal discharge: Do not ignore these alarming signs as these symptoms may be of cervical cancer.(Shutterstock)

Shocked and baffled by the diagnosis, she asked why couldn’t this be picked up earlier? The answer was simple… her body gave signals, but she ignored it.

Hindustan Times - your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

This scenario is commonly seen in our daily practice. A timely consultation could have detected cancer at a much early stage. It is ironical, that cervical cancer is the most preventable one of all cancers and yet, we lose one woman every eight minutes to this disease in our country.

So, what should every woman do for early detection of cervical cancer?

Look for the signs and symptoms: Consult a doctor if you have:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods, after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic exam or after going through menopause.
  • Menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before
  • Increased vaginal discharge / foul-smelling discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex

Screening: Women should go for regular screening test. The test can help find cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be effective. The general screening guidelines are:

  • Under 21 years old: No testing required
  • 21-30 years old: Pap test every 3 years
  • 30-65 years old: Pap test every 3 years, or Pap test and HPV co-testing every 5 years
  • Over 65 years old: No testing needed if no abnormal results for the past 10 years

Vaccine: Cervical cancer is caused by infection with a virus called human papillomavirus or HPV. Fortunately, we have two vaccines available against cancer causing HPV strains that can prevent not only cervical cancer but vaginal and anal cancers too. HPV vaccination is recommended to be given to girls between ages 9-26 years.

Treatment: The treatment of cervical cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient’s preferences and overall health. The common types of treatments used for cervical cancer are:

Surgery: Surgery is the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue during an operation. For cancer that has not spread beyond the cervix, these procedures are often used.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be given alone, before surgery, or instead of surgery to shrink the tumour.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells, usually by keeping the cancer cells from growing, dividing, and making more cells.

Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells and limits damage to healthy cells.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses the body's natural defences to fight cancer by improving your immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells.

Coming back to Veena, her treatment regimen was planned. Having learnt from her mistake of ignorance, she took the entire treatment diligently and timely and did not miss any session. Despite having an advanced cancer, she responded well to the planned therapy and it has been four years now that she is in remission. Today, she has become an ambassador making others aware about the prevention of cervical cancer.

Listen to your body, don’t ignore the signs it shows. Get regular screening tests and the vaccine shot. Report any abnormality to a doctor immediately.

The article has been authored by Dr Meenu Walia, medical oncologist with 30 years of medical experience.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, February 25, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On