In the first ever pilot project to detect human papillomavirus (HPV) among females by the Odisha Health Department, at least 12% of the women residing in the slums of Cuttack city were detected to be positive.
HPV is one of the major causes of cervical cancer among women. A total of 5,000 women were surveyed, but they are yet to be screened specifically for cancerous cells. The pilot community sample survey, meant to be held in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, is yet to start in Bhubaneswar.
According to the World Health Organisation, cervical cancer is by far the most common HPV-related disease. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be attributed to an HPV infection. Although most HPV infections clear up on their own and most pre-cancerous lesions resolve spontaneously, there is a risk for all women that the infection may become chronic and pre-cancerous lesions progress to invasive cervical cancer. HPV can also cause cancer in the oropharynx (throat).
“The survey is being conducted to estimate how many females have been exposed to HPV in order to facilitate early detection of cervical cancer and provide necessary treatment at the earliest. Ten districts have been provided with thermal coagulation devices for early detection,” said Dr Niranjan Mishra, Director of Public Health, Odisha.
Since 2018, the state has maintained data on cases of cervical cancer as reported from private and government hospitals. The data accessed by The Indian Express shows that the number of cervical cancer cases among women increased by over 350% in the last three years. In 2018, the state had reported 45 cervical cancer cases, which increased to 137 in 2019 and to 204 in 2020.
“For now, the data that we have has been compiled from selected hospitals. Women seeking consultation at private clinics or who are unaware of being infected are not counted in the data which is already available. Through the survey, we can also spread awareness among the women about HPV and have a better database on cases of cervical cancer in the state,” Dr Mishra added.
The state government has also decided to open histopathology labs in six districts for early detection of cancer cases. As many as 53,000 new cancer cases were detected in Odisha in 2021.