Cervical cancer claims over 73,000 lives of women every year in India, which makes it top the cervical cancer deaths worldwide.
U.S.-based research claims that India makes up for around 26.4 percent of all women dying of cervical cancer globally. Other countries showing high incidence of cervical cancer-related death include Thailand, China, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh, according to the Cervical Cancer Global Crisis Card, which was released by the Cervical Cancer-Free Coalition.
This card also suggests that cervical cancer kills around 275,000 women worldwide each year, and 50,000 new cases are reported around the year. Though largely preventable, this disease has claimed innumerable lives, especially those of women in the low and middle income countries.
Obtaining data from the WHO, the World Bank, United Nations, and IARC Globocan, the Crisis Card reveals that countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, China and Pakistan made up for more than half of the number of cervical cancer deaths occurring worldwide.
Frequent awareness campaigns and successful rollout of several vaccines, treatment drugs and preventive methods in Australia has significantly lowered the cervical cancer mortality rate there.
"Cervical cancer can happen to anyone. Certain women are at greater risk. These include women who started sexual activity at an early age, had multiple pregnancies, had multiple partners themselves, or their partners have multiple partners," said Dr Neerja Bhatla, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Other sexually transmitted infections like Chlamydia, herpes simplex, gonorrhea, and immune-suppressing diseases such as HIV may elevate the risk of a woman suffering from cervical cancer, Neerja says. Also, frequent use of oral contraceptives and chain smoking can further increase the risk.
Cervical cancer is caused by human papilloma virus (HPV); a virus that strikes more than 80 percent of women some time during their lives. A strong immune system is usually enough to get rid of the virus, but in around 8-10 percent of cases, the infection still persists.
"If you have found out you have cervical cancer, it does not mean that it is the end. Cervical cancer is a treatable cancer if found early enough. Just go through the treatments, they are hard and the side effects are awful, but life will continue as normal after everything is done," said Genevieve Sambhi, former Miss Universe Runner Up and a cervical cancer survivor.
Women in the high-risk category and those having a family history of cervical cancer should consider getting a PAP smear test done from time to time, so as to detect cervical cancer at an early stage.