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Personal hygiene is very important to prevent Cervical Cancer, which is the second most common cancer in Bangladesh, with detection of approximately 12,000 new cases and cause over 6,000 deaths annually.

“Personal hygiene can avert the cervical cancer. The prevalence of this disease is more in low socio economic areas in our country,” Associate Professor and Head of Epidemiology at the National Cancer Research Institute and Hospital Dr M Habibullah Talukder Ruskin told BSS.

He also blamed early marriage, early sexual intercourse, and maintaining physical relation with multiple partners for the cause of the cancer.

“Preventive cervical screening programmes are necessary for early detection, which can also prevent many cancer-related deaths,” Cancer Specialist (Radiotherapy) Prof. Dr. M Ehteshamul Hoque told BSS. According to a report by the US National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, up to 93 percent of cervical cancer cases can be prevented.

“Awareness about cervical cancer is negligible, particularly in low socio-economic groups, who also have the highest exposure to risk,” they said.

Many people don’t even know about early detection, symptoms, preventive measures or even what cervical cancer is. If they were aware, it’s usually a problem that is not prioritized, they added.

Stressing the early screening and vaccination to prevent the cancer, Director General of Directorate General of Health Services Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad told the state news agency, “The national strategy for Bangladesh has been designed with the goal to reduce the incidence, prevalence, morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer through a coordinated and refined approach for screening, detection, and management”.

As per representative of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Dr Asa Torkelsson, in Bangladesh, a comprehensive approach to cervical cancer prevention and control should involve vaccinating women before sexual debut and screening women for precancerous lesion and treatment before progression to invasive disease.

Cervical cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the cervix, the lower end of the uterus that connects with the upper vagina. Over 90 percent of cases are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Most people never even know that they have HPV, as their immune system fights it off. But in some cases, the virus can transform normal cells in the cervix to cancerous ones. Doctors also attribute certain “risk factors” to the likelihood of developing cervical cancer.

These precancerous lesions can be diagnosed and removed using simple and effective outpatient procedures, but since they do not cause any clinical symptoms, they can only be identified by cervical screening, the experts emphasized.

In Bangladesh, over 30 million women aged 30-60 years need to be screened for Cervical Cancer, according to National Strategy for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control in Bangladesh.

This feature was jointly produced by BSS and UNICEF.