What are the common types of cancers in women?

Two most common types are cancer of the cervix (mouth of the womb) & cancer of the breast. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Indian women and almost 73,000 women die from the disease each year. It is estimated that one in 22 Indian females is likely to develop breast cancer during her lifetime in contrast to one in eight in America.

Who is at risk of developing cancers?

Cancer cervix is seen more commonly in women who have early onset of sexual activity, multiple sex partners, multiple child births & belonging to low socioeconomic status. The cause is a virus called HPV (Human Papilloma Virus).
Breast cancer occurs more often in urban women with early onset of menses, late child bearing, fewer pregnancies , reduced duration of breast feeding and prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy.

Can these cancers be prevented?

Leading a healthy lifestyle with nutritious diet, exercise, safe sex, avoidance of smoking & alcohol will prevent most cancers. Pap smear is a test to diagnose cancer cervix in early stage. This test should be done once in every three years in all sexually active women. To prevent cancer cervix, a vaccine is now available, which can be given from 12 to 45 years of age.
Breast cancer can be prevented be regular self examination, mammography (after 40 years), every two years.

When should I see a doctor?

Any irregular vaginal bleeding, bleeding after intercourse, foul smelling discharge should alert a woman of cancer cervix.
Any lump in the breast, abnormal discharge from the nipple, skin dimpling can be early signs of breast cancer.
If diagnosed in time, most cancers can be successfully treated. As is said “prevention is better than cure”, we recommend all women to do regular Pap Smears, mammography, gynaecological checkups , vaccination, be alert about early signs of cancer and enjoy a long & healthy life.