Nip it in the Bud
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In India about 205 women die due to cervical cancer every day and this happens for a cancer that can be prevented. This is primarily due to the non-existence of organised population-based screening program in the country.
Dr Bharati Dhorepatil, President of the Indian Medical Association, says,"Every year, 120,000 new cases of cervical cancer are detected, of which more than 80 per cent are in advanced stage when little can be done to save their lives. The IMA hence undertook an initiative to screen at least 1000 women in Maval tehsil of Pune district and Panhala tehsil of Kolhapur district in the last six months and create awareness about cervical cancer.
Women in rural areas rarely get an opportunity to get any gynaecological examination done. An expert committee of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India recommended that women between 30 to 60 years of age should be screened by Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA), since setting up Pap smear facility in the rural areas is not feasible, Dhorepatil said.
Dr Smita Joshi, Asst Professor, Hirabai Cowasji Jehangir Medical Research Institute (HCJMRI) and Dr Anita Patil, Professor and Head of the Department, Bharti Vidyapeeth Homeopathic Medical College, were the co investigators in the project. The project was Indian Medical Association (Pune Branch)'s initiative to demonstrate feasibility of community based cervical cancer screening services to rural women as a public-private partnership in order to detect and treat women who are likely to develop cervical cancer in future.
The VIA test can be performed by trained health workers and the test positive women can immediately be advised to undergo colposcopy (if the facility exists) or a biopsy may be taken and they can undergo immediate treatment using an ablative method. Most of the detected precancers can be treated by cryotherapy or cold coagulation even in the rural clinics as it is safe, inexpensive, easy to perform and almost as effective as excisional methods of treatment.
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