Staff Reporter

“Death of one woman for every seven minutes in India”

The test is used to detect abnormal cells which may develop into cancer

Girls above the age of nine should be vaccinated

TIRUNELVELI: Since seven per cent of the world’s cervical cancer patients population is in India, women should undergo Pap’s smear test and get vaccinated to shield themselves from this disease, gynaecologist Devamani Pandian has said.

“As India witnesses the death of one woman for every seven minutes and over 200 cervical cancer patients die every day in the country, women should get vaccinated for this dreaded disease after consulting the gynaecologist,” Dr. Devamani said.

Addressing a seminar at Sarah Tucker College here on Thursday on ‘cervical cancer and preventive mechanism’, the gynaecologist said the asymptomatic disease that consumed the life of actress Jade Goody on last March 22 was caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that would infect the epidermis and mucous membranes of humans and could lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus in women.

A cervical Papanicolaou (Pap) test is used to detect abnormal cells which may develop into cancer.

A cervical examination also detects warts and other abnormal growths. Pap smears have reduced the incidence and fatalities of cervical cancer in the developed world, but even so there were 11,000 cases and 3,900 deaths in the U.S. in 2008 and this incidence in Asia, particularly in India, is alarmingly higher.

She cautioned students against early exposure to sexual activities and also multiple sexual partners, since such cases were at greater risk of being infected by human papillomavirus.

Prof. Cynthia Pandian, during her tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, organised special vaccination camps in women’s colleges affiliated to MSU for rubella.

Students to be vaccinated

Dr. Devamani, who has originally planned to organise awareness campaigns in all women’s colleges in the southern districts on cervical cancer, informed that she would bring a team of doctors and lab technicians to the women’s colleges here for vaccinating the girl students for this disease.

Pap’s smear test for mothers

“If you bring your mothers to the vaccination camp, I’ll conduct the Pap’s smear test for your moms free of cost. Though the vaccine that guards you against four most dreaded types of human papillomavirus (including types 16 and 18 that are generally acknowledged to cause about 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases) is sold for Rs. 2,800 in the market, we’ll try to bring down the cost further for the benefit of the girl students,” said Dr. Devamani, a bharatanatyam dancer.

According to her, girls above the age of nine (as per the recommendations of World Health Organization) should be vaccinated for cervical cancer.

“The second dose of the vaccine should be administered in the second month and the third in the sixth month so that the individual will be guarded for her entire life against this disease,” said Dr. Devamani, who also replied to the queries from the students.