The R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India has been recommended for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO) after meeting required safety, quality and effectiveness standards.
The Central government recently launched India’s first indigenously developed vaccine “CERVAVAC” for the prevention of cervical cancer.
During the launch, the government revealed that as per data, cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most prevalent cancers in India and accounts for nearly one-fourth of the world’s cervical cancer deaths despite being largely preventable.
Every year approximately 1.25 lakhs women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 75,000 females die from the disease in India.
While vaccine is one way to keep cervical cancer at bay, there are other ways to combat the same. The gynecologists share insights over the same.
Dr. Manisha Arora, Principal Consultant – Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Max Hospital, Gurugram said, “The ratio for cervical cancer incidence is 1:8. It is caused because of the early sexual activities because of Multiple sexual partners, cigarettes smoking, and continuous use of OCPs. The reason for this is Human papilloma virus.
Testing for this is routine testing on screening after the age of 25 years or after the beginning of the sexual activities.”
She further said, “In every 3 years we should get a Pap smear test done. For protection and prevention, diagnosis and treatment on time is crucial Besides, one should get vaccine.”
Dr. Kanika Gupta, Senior Director – Surgical Oncology (Gynae & Robotic Surgery), Max Hospital, Vaishali said, “Due to cancer cervix, every 8 minute one woman dies in India. This is due to Human Papilloma Virus which is sexually transmitted.”
Some of the primary prevention includes Avoid Multiple Partners, diet rich in nutrients mainly folic acid, avoid tobacco consumption, maintain hygiene and avoid vaginal infections, added Dr Gupta.
Besides, she suggested for vaccination, screening by Pap Smear and HPV Testing, early diagnosis and treatment.
Vaccination available in India is for young girls in the following schedule:
From age 9 to 15 – in two doses
From age 15 to 26 – in two doses
From age 26 to 45 – catch-up vaccine
But along with this, screening with pap smear should not be avoided. Vaccination will be no treatment if the disease exists.
She added, “So far the cost of vaccination was 3-4 thousand per dose for quadrivalent and 11-12 thousand for nonavalent. It was not included in Level 1/Category A in National Immunisation Programme and was not for boys.”
With this newer Indian HPV vaccine launch we hope that the cost will reduce and government will take this up in Level-1/Category A program. We can cover wider population, low income group and prevent cervical cancer in India, added Dr Kanika.
Dr Anagha Chhatrapati, Consultant- Gynaecology at Mumbai’s Global Hospital Parel, Mumbai on her part informed, “Cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted viral infection called as HPV or Human Papillomavirus.”
“The prevention of cervical cancer is Administration of HPV vaccine, which should be given between 9-14 years of age, Ideally to be given before first sexual intercourse, can be given upto 27 years of age for maximum efficacy. But upto 47 years is allowed, said the doctor.
Dr Anagha also suggested to use barrier contraception like condom to prevent sexuality transmitted diseases including HPV and others like HIV, HBsAg, Syphilis etc.
“Prevent sexual activity and childbearing at younger age, when Cervical epithelium is immature and vulnerable to malignant transformation,” she said.