Kathmandu, January 7

At least nine women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in a week at Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital.

According to Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital, cervical cancer was diagnosed in 216 women from 14 April till 17 September 2019. The hospital, however, is yet to come up with compiled data for 2019.

As many as 393 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018 at the hospital. Record maintained by the hospital showed that 462 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2017, 492 in 2016, 222 in 2015 and 191 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.

“Causes and risk factors for cervical cancer include human papilloma virus infection, having multiple sexual partners, engaging in early sexual contact, involvement in multiple sexual relations as human papilloma virus is mainly transmitted through sexual contact.

Delivering more number of children is also a cause for cervical cancer,” according to Dr Ujjwal Raj Chalise, head of Department of Radiation at Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital.

Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer among Nepali women.

“Immunisation with HPV vaccine reduces the impact of cervical cancer. It’s ideal for girls to receive the vaccine before they have sexual contact and are exposed to HPV,” said Dr Chalise.

The government has vaccinated girls studying at Grades VI and VII of Chitwan and Kaski districts as part of its pilot project to reduce cervical cancer in the country.

The government has also aimed to administer human papilloma virus vaccination in all adolescent girls across the country through its national immunisation programme.

But the government’s plan is still in a state of limbo.

“The government’s decision to administer human papilloma virus vaccine came last year when no preparation was made. Age, amount, time duration between the first and second doses and other variants should be decided before taking decision on immunisation.

But there weren’t any preparations then,” said Dr Jhalak Gautam, chief of Child Health and Immunisation Section at Family Welfare Division.

“The National Advisory Committee on Immunisation should first pass all decisions regarding immunisation and then only the government will grant approval. Though we have been holding discussions and are working to include HPV vaccine in the regular immunisation list, we can’t provide the vaccination in the current fiscal,” said Dr Gautam.

“Cancer of cervix can be detected at precancerous stage through screening with Pap smear test.

The disease can be prevented and treated successfully if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. Also human papilloma virus vaccination helps prevent cervical cancer,” said Dr Chalise.

Common symptoms of cervical cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding, odorous discharge, bleeding after going through menopause, pain during sex, and pelvic pain. Anyone experiencing these symptoms is advised to visit hospital immediately, as per Dr Chalise.

In 2018 approximately 311,000 women died of cervical cancer. More than 85 per cent of these deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries, according to World Health Organisation.

Cervical cancer awareness month is celebrated every year in January.