What is cervical cancer?

It is the cancer of mouth of uterus. It’s the most common cancer among women of our country.

What is the cause of cancer cervix?

Cause of cancer cervix is HPV (Human Papilloma Virus).

Can it be prevented?

Yes, we can prevent cancer cervix.”PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.”

How it can be prevented?

It can be prevented by HPV vaccine. It can also be prevented by keeping good hygiene, regular screening with Pap smear, limiting your sex –partners, by keeping good sexual hygiene, avoiding smoking and alcoholism.

What is the ideal age for HPV vaccination?

11-12 yrs is ideal age.

What if I have crossed the ideal age for vaccination?

Still you can receive vaccination… Efficacy is good if given till the age of even 26 yrs.

What is the maximum age limit?

Guidelines say unto 26 yrs, but if you want you can have after that also. “SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING”

What is the minimum age for vaccination?

Minimum age is 9 yrs.

Why HPV vaccine is given so early?

Because HPV infection spreads thro’ sexual activity most commonly, so it is better to give HPV vaccine before the start of sexual activity or I must say before puberty onsets.

Is vaccine 100% effective?

No, it is not 100% effective. It gives protection mainly against two strains 16 and 18 which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. And efficacy is 95.8% against vaccine related strains.

How many doses should I take?

You should complete your dose schedule of minimum of 2 doses between 6-24 months if you are below 15 yrs of age and 3 if you are above 15 yrs.

What if I don’t complete my dose schedule?

Then you won’t be protected. Single dose is not protective.

What are dose schedule for this vaccination?

2 doses for girls under the age of 15 yrs and after 15 yrs you need 3 doses.

What are the routes?

Sorry to say, this vaccine is not given by mouth unlike polio one. Route gives some pain as it is an injection. “No pain, no gain.”

If I complete my dose schedule, then I am protected for whole life. Is it true?

No, you are protected for 10 yrs. After that according to antibody titres you may need vaccine again.

Will I be protected if I‘ve crossed the age of vaccination?

Yes, up to some extent. If you are exposed to vaccine related strains already, then no.

Does HPV vaccine give protection against other strains of HPV or other STD’s?

Vaccine is protective for 16,18,6 and 11 strains mainly. For protection of other sex related disease you need to wear condom.

What are the side-effects of HPV vaccine?

No medicine is without side-effects, so are the vaccines. Side- effects are mild irritation or pain at injection site or some temperature, nausea, vomiting or fainting attacks. But these are mild and will get settled in a day or two. To avoid fainting attacks, remain seated for 15-20 mins after vaccination.

Are there any major side- effects of this vaccine?

Practically almost nil major side-effects, except severe allergic reaction, that can be life-threatening.

What are the contraindications of HPV vaccine?

Pregnancy, severe illness or allergies and allergy to previous dose of vaccine.

Can I get pregnant during vaccination?


After how long I can become pregnant of completion of my dose schedule?

No effects on babies born to mothers having HPV vaccine has been reported, so no recommendations have been made.

What if I found myself pregnant and I have taken vaccine?

You need not to worry. Withhold your vaccine and complete your dose schedule after the birth of baby.

Do I need to have my pregnancy checked before vaccination?


Is there any contraindication to breast feeding during vaccination?


Do I need screening even after vaccination?

Yes, you need screening on same screening schedule as advised.

Will it cure my previous infection?


After how long of vaccination will I be protected?

Immunity is at its peak after 3rd dose of vaccine .You can say after one month of 3rd dose.

Key words: Vaccine,HPV, Dose, Protection, Age.

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What is the meaning of screening?

Screening is done for detection of a disease in its early stage for effective cure.

What are different methods for cervical cancer screening?

Pap smear, liquid based cytology and human papilloma virus.

What is Pap smear?

Pap smear detects changes in cells that take place before cancer formation in cervical cells that if not treated may turn into overt cancer.

What is liquid based cytology?

It is similar to Pap smear with the exception that slides are not prepared in opd; cells are directly transferred to laboratory in liquid media.

What is HPV?

HPV is a DNA virus causing cervical cancer changes.

What are the precautions to be taken care of before Pap test?

  1. You should be free from your menstrual cycle before Pap.
  2. Don’t use any douching, tampon, foam, medicine, cream or jelly before Pap.
  3. No sex before Pap.

When will I get my Pap test report?

From as early as same day to as long as 3 weeks.

How difficult is this test?

It is very simple and Opd procedure of just few seconds.

Is it painful?

Not at all.

Do I need any kind of anaesthesia before Pap?

Not at all.

Do I need any rest after this?


May I bleed after Pap?

Yes, sometime you may do, but it is just spotting not heavy bleeding. You don’t need pad usually after pap.

When should I get myself screened for cancer cervix with Pap?

As early as at the age of 21 yrs if you are sexually active.

How frequently should I get Pap smear?

Every 3 years if your pap test is normal.

Can I combine Pap smear with HPV?

Yes, you can do both the tests in same sitting.

Till what age should I get Pap test?

Till the age of 65 yrs of age.

When should I stop Pap test?

After the age of 65 yrs, if you have got your uterus removed for benign conditions like fibroid and your 3 smears are negative for any abnormal cell for 3 consecutive years.

Is Pap test going to affect my pregnancy?


 Can men be screened for HPV?

Unfortunately no. Men cannot be screened for HPV.

When should I get myself screened for HPV?

At the age of 30 yrs.

What if my Pap smear is normal and HPV negative?

Then you can wait for 5 yrs for next screening.

What if my Pap smear is normal and HPV positive?

It indicates you are having cancer causing virus, but your cervix is free from cancer at present. You need to get yourself screened again after one year for Pap and HPV.

What if my Pap is abnormal and H  PV negative?

It means your cell changes are unlikely caused by HPV. Your doctor will have a closer look at your cervix and may do a colposcopy guided biopsy.

Does positive HPV means I am having cancer?

No, it does not mean you are having cancer. But it can be a warning sign.

What if I have positive HPV and abnormal Pap?

That doesn’t mean you are having cancer, but it says get yourself treated and have regular follow-up.

Is there any side-effect of these screening tests?

Yes, these tests may be false positive or false negative.

False positive?

Yes, abnormal cells or positive HPV in the absence of actual cancer. It may result in unnecessary treatment or apprehension in patients.

And false negative?

Normal cells or absent HPV in presence of cancer cells. It may result in delay of treatment.

How effective is Pap smear screening?

It is quite effective to detect cervical cancer and prevent cervical cancer related deaths and morbidity.

Key words: Pap, HPV, Screening, Cancer, Cells.

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What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer of mouth of uterus.

How common is it?

It is most common cancer of females in India.

When should I visit a gynaecologist to rule out cervical cancer?

If you are having copious foul smelling white discharge, post-coital bleeding, post-menopausal bleeding or intermenstrual bleeding.

What causes cervical cancer?

It is caused by a virus known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

How is HPV transmitted?

Spreads via skin-to-skin genital contact, deep penetration is not mandatory.

Does condom gives protection against HPV?

As HPV can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and deep penetration is not mandatory for its spread, so condom is not protective.

Is circumcision of male partner is protective against cervical cancer?

Yes, as circumcised males harbour less virus.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?

Early coitus, multiparity, less gap between two conceptions, multiple sexual partners, poor hygiene, poor socioeconomic status, smoking and drug abuse like alcohol, lack of immunity, women having STD’s.

Can warts lead to cancer of cervix?

Warts are benign .That means these are caused by low risk viruses that are not known to cause cancer.

Can cervical cancer be prevented?

Yes, it can be prevented.

What are the methods of prevention of cervical cancer?

Screening and vaccination.

What is screening?

Screening is method of detection of cancer at an early stage. In early stages if detected then treatment is possible and effective.

What are the screening methods used for cervical cancer detection?

Most common and cost effective method is Pap smear screening. Other methods are costly: LBC, HPV and Colposcopy.

Can cervical cancer be prevented through vaccination?

Yes, it can be prevented through vaccination against HPV.

Key words: Cancer, Cervix, HPV, Prevention, Screening.

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Why do I get white discharge vagina?

Vaginal discharge serves as guard to female genital organs by keeping bacteria and dead cells away from the system. This is produced by glands of cervix and vagina. If this system is distorted, you will get abnormal discharge. There will be more discharge if you are in the phase of egg production, pregnant or sexually aroused.

What will tell me if it’s normal or abnormal?

Amount, colour and smell of the discharge and associated symptoms like itching, burning, bleeding between periods and after sex with your partner.

What types of colours are there for discharge to be labelled as normal?

Clear and watery without any odour, clear and stretchy, brownish before or immediately after periods……

What causes abnormal discharge vagina?

Infection by bacteria, fungus or parasite infestation, excessive use of antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, perfumed soaps, allergy to soaps, deodorants and undergarments, cancer, diabetes, low Haemoglobin, thyroid disorder, old age due to loss of hormones like estrogens…..

What should I expect from my doctor?

Your doctor will do your check-up after asking few questions and can order some tests to reach a conclusion.

When to seek an appointment from a doctor?

Discharge associated with fever, foul smell, pain lower abdomen, weight loss without any disease, fatigue and increased frequency of urination, bleeding between cycles or after sex.

What are the tests to diagnose it?

Scrapings (PAP’S SMEAR) from cervix to check cancer or HPV .Examination of discharge  under a microscope to see exact causative agent.

What if I don’t get any check-up or treatment?

If discharge is normal then nothing to worry, but before you label it as safe you need to have a check-up by your doctor. But if discharge is associated with any of the above mentioned symptoms, be careful. You may have cancer, infection which may be in early stage and curable.

How can I avoid or prevent this?

Practice good local and sexual hygiene, wear loose cotton underwear. Douches should not be used chronically as they may destroy useful bacteria. Condom is best to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and discharge. When you are using antibiotics for more than 10 days, then increase your dose of yoghurt.


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Key words:  Hygiene, Discharge, Normal, Abnormal, Prevention.