A smear test would assure a woman that she has not contracted the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer, said gynaecologist Shanthi Santhanakrishnan.
Delivering a lecture on ‘Understanding Cervical Cancer,' organised by Hamsa Trust, Dr. Shanthi, who is with the National Health Services in the United Kingdom, said every woman should undergo the Pap smear test at least once in her lifetime.
HPV is sexually transmitted and results in infection. Women should go for a screening for cervical cancer three years after becoming sexually active, she said. While almost 90 per cent of infections clear on their own within two years, it is estimated that seven to eight women out of 10 can be at risk for HPV.
Poor hygiene and multiple partners are risk factors for the infection. Smear tests help detect precancerous stage and prevent cancer but cannot detect cervical cancer, she explained.
Studies had shown that HPV vaccine provides immunity for a period of 5 years but only time and further studies would tell how long the immunity would last, Dr. Shanthi said. . On the nature of virus, surgical oncologist and Vice-Chancellor of Meenakshi University T. Gunasagaran said HIV infection brought about changes in the RNA and HPV attacked the DNA in the human system.
Hamsa Trust's patron T.V. Venkataraman and managing trustee C.S. Krishnadas spoke.