Cervical cancer is the most common cancer of the genital tract among women across the world. Three fourth of the cases occur in the developing countries. India has a large burden of this malignancy. To an estimated annual global incidence of 500,000 cervical cancers, India contributes 100,000 i.e. 1/5 of the world burden. As per studies the women most at risk for cervical cancers are married women over the age of 35 years. Cervical cancer is preventable as cervix is easily examined and detection of disease at an early stage ensures better cure rate. Despite being a preventable disease, cervical cancer claims the lives of almost half a million women worldwide each year. The incidence of late disease in most of the affluent countries is about 10-12 per cent, in British Columbia, about 3-4 per cent, whereas in India it is almost 70-76 per cent.
?The reason of this high mortality rate is the lack of awareness not only among patients but even doctors. Sometimes doctors do not show interest in detecting the disease and when it is detected it leaves no other option but to operate. What is today needed is that the doctors must be made aware of the problem and they should be made aware enough to detect the fatal disease in first stage itself so that the mortality rate could be reduced. Global evidences demonstrate that the key to reducing cervical cancer morbidity and mortality is early detection coupled with timely treatment of cervical precancerous lesions. The earlier it is detected, the better the chances of defeating it. If it is caught before it spreads beyond the cervix, 95 per cent of cases are curable. The detection of the cervix cancer is so simple that even the paramedical staff can do it. It can be used even in remote and rural areas, as it does not require much equipments or medicines. So, our highest priority is to identify the disease earlier. In order to spread awareness among doctors and paramedical staff the Indian Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ISCCP) in association with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Maulana Azad Medical College and associated Lok Nayak Hospital took the initiative and organised a two-day national workshop in New Delhi,? said Dr Vijay Zutshi, organising secretary of the workshop.
The workshop was attended by over 125 leading doctors from across the country. The ISCCP in consultation with the Union Health Ministry is in the process to formulate national guidelines for early diagnosis and management of cervical cancer using methods, which are simple, economical and have an outreach even to the remote areas of the country, Dr Zutshi added.
Speaking at the workshop Dr Swaraj Batra, Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Lok Nayak Hospital, pointed out that in the West, general public awareness and wide application of screening tests (e.g. Pap Test) had lead to marked reduction in the disease load. In India, use of these expensive and labour intensive tests is often not possible. The Pap smear test costs about Rs 150 per patients in the West. While the simple method used in India costs just 20 paise per patient.