Both sexes are equally susceptible to cancer. But some malignancies, like those of the breast, ovaries, cervix, and uterus are particularly dangerous for women.
More women than men are receiving cancer diagnoses, according to the most recent ICMR statistics. Cancers of the cervix, ovary, and uterus are the most common among Indian women.
In India, in addition to the malignancies mentioned above, more women are developing lung and colorectal cancer. The majority of malignancies, even if their frequency is rising, are treatable if found at an early stage.
The most prevalent form of cancer in women, breast cancer accounts for 14 percent of all malignancies.
According to reports, an Indian woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every four minutes.
Strong family history, obesity, use of hormone replacement therapy, drinking alcohol, and leading a sedentary lifestyle are some risk factors for breast cancer.
Self-breast examination, mammography, and early medical advice in the event of a suspicious lump can all aid in the early detection of breast cancer.
Cervical cancer used to be the most prevalent malignancy in Indian women. Fortunately, the numbers have been declining recently.
Having several sexual partners, smoking, and human papillomavirus infection are a few of the risk factors for cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer can be prevented by HPV vaccine, routine gynaecological screenings including PAP/HPV DNA testing, and engaging in safe sexual practices.
Those over 30 are more likely to experience it. Cervical cancer is mostly brought on by persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. A common virus called HPV is transmitted during sex from one person to another.
Due to its ambiguous symptoms and the fact that most women only receive a diagnosis at an advanced stage, ovarian cancer is known as a silent killer.
The three main risk factors for developing ovarian cancer are obesity, old age, and a strong family history of the disease.
As people age, their risk of acquiring ovarian cancer increases.
Among women under the age of 40, ovarian cancer is uncommon. After menopause, most ovarian malignancies start to appear. Women 63 years of age or older account for half of all cases of ovarian cancer.
The most prevalent gynaecological cancer in the West is carcinoma of the uterus. Due to changes in lifestyle and the reproductive characteristics of women in urban areas, the incidence of uterine cancer is increasing in India.
Postmenopausal bleeding is the symptom of uterine cancer that occurs most frequently.
Currently, there are no screening procedures available for uterine cancer. When a woman develops symptoms, the doctor may recommend diagnostic tests.
Women above the age of 55 form the majority of the victims of uterine cancer.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after menopause or bleeding in between periods, is a crucial indicator. Pelvic pain and pain during sex are possible additional symptoms, while some women report no symptoms at all.
Colon cancer typically starts when normal colonic cells experience genetic abnormalities (mutations).
A set of instructions that inform a cell what to do can be found in its DNA. Around the age of 45, doctors advise people with an average risk of colon cancer to think about getting screened.
However, people at higher risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, have to think about screening earlier.
Cancer among women in India: Takeaway
It is crucial for women in India and elsewhere to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and get frequent screenings to detect breast and cervical cancer early on.
Also, the emergence of fresh symptoms like those listed above calls for a medical consultation.
The usual method for lowering the risk of developing cancer still involves lifestyle modifications such as quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight.
(Dr Nikhil Ghadyalpatil is senior consultant medical oncologist & hemato-oncologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad. These are the personal views of the author)