A lot has been discussed and said about cervical cancer recently and while it might be in everyone’s best interest to not dwell on Poonam Pandey – the reason behind this sustained discussion, we can still talk about the disease. Cervical cancer is serious, and the only way to address that, is to address THAT.

Cervical Cancer

So, here are some basic facts everyone should know about HPV and cervical cancer:

1. The symptoms of cervical cancer may not always be easily noticeable.

Symptoms of cervical cancer do not develop in early stages, and may even take years to appear to people who are not professionals. These include watery or bloody vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding after intercourse and menopause. It is also suggested that periods last longer than normal during the initial stage of cervical cancer.

2. There are different types of HPV infections.

There is not just one HPV infection, there are different types and they are grouped differently. The low-risk HPV types include types 6, 11, 42, 43, and 44. Whereas, the high-risk HPV types include types 16, 18, 31, 33, 34, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, 68, and 70.

3. Sex is not the only cause why HPV infections spread.

A number of strains of HPV can spread through skin-to-skin contact or from shared surfaces. It’s true that one can get infected with HPV if they are sexually active, but it’s not the only reason why. So, it is important to stop the moral shaming associated with it.

4. Cervical cancer can be caught in its early stages.

Since the symptoms associated with cervical cancer are vague and somewhat irregular, spotting it becomes tricky. The way to do that in early stages is by getting regular screenings. There are HPV tests and pap tests for the same.


5. There is a right time to get the vaccination.

The government recently encouraged vaccination for girls in the age group of 9 to 14 years for prevention of cervical cancer. The vaccine is available for everyone between 9 to 45 years of age. The right time to get it is as soon as one can.

6. It’s more common than we thought.

In India, cervical cancer is as common as 6 – 29% of all cancers in women. According to WHO, it’s also the fourth most common cancer in women. It ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women in India.

7. There are no major side effects to the vaccine.

According to Dr. Cuterus, there can be soreness and itching in the area where the needle is put. She mentioned that there have been massive studies that prove that the vaccine does not affect fertility or cause major side effects. In cases of allergies, people who are allergic to the vaccine might notice side-effects.

8. There are some common myths associated with cervical cancer. These include:

a) To protect women against cervical cancer, a regular Pap test is enough.

b) If you have HPV, you have cervical cancer.

c) HPV is a very common infection among men and women.

d) Cervical cancer is not transmissible. The HPV infection, however, can be transmitted from one person to another.

Cervical Cancer

It all comes down to awareness – in general, and of oneself.