Cervical Cancer and its Prevention

Cervical Cancer is the second most common type of cancer in Bangladesh (WHO). It arises in the cervix, the narrow part of the lower uterus and the entry to the womb. According to a study of International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), about 11,956 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the country every year. 

In most cases, Cervical Cancer is caused due to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), but other causes can be -weak immune system, birth control pills, smoking or having too many sexual partners. At an early stage of cervical cancer, no symptoms are visible. That is why medical experts recommend that women should undergo a Pap Test on a regular basis. The later symptoms of cervical cancer are- abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.

What is a Pap Test?

As the early stage of cervical cancer has no symptoms, it is recommended that women undergo a Pap Test to detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they develop into the cancerous stage. During the test, the doctor or nurse puts a tool called ‘speculum’ inside the vagina. This tool collects cells from the cervix, which is then sent to the laboratory for testing. 

Pap tests help detect cancerous cells at an early stage, or abnormal cells before they turn into cancerous cells. There is a higher chance of successful treatment if cancer or pre-cancer cells are detected early. Experts recommend that women between the ages of 21-29 years get a Pap test every 3 years, and women between the ages of 30-65 years get the test every 5 years. 


Cervical cancer that is caused by HPV can be prevented by vaccines. Professor (Brigadier General) Rokeya Khan, MBBS, MCPS, DGO, and FCPS Fellow in Gynae-oncology, reported to The Daily Star “Patients below 15 years require two doses in six months, whereas those between 16-26 years require three, the second being a month after the first, and the third six months after the first.” The vaccinations cost between Tk 2000-4000 per dose and can be administered in hospitals, vaccination centres and by gynaecologists. Providing this vaccination to the poor all over Bangladesh remains a challenge. 

Cervical Cancer Screening in Bangladesh

Cervical Cancer Screening Tests are quite expensive in Bangladesh, hence it cannot be accessed by those who live below the poverty level. Another cheaper alternative called Visual Inspection by Acetic Acid (VIA) is available, however, its use is not popular in Bangladesh.

Some NGOs and government organisations which have screening programmes are- Sheikh Mujib Medical University, A K Khan Healthcare Trust and Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.


Picture Source: The Sun

Share Button

Leave a Reply