UAE: 80% of cervical cancer cases can be cured; doctors explain how

Experts cite a case of an expat who didn't have to go through cancer treatments after her biopsy returned a positive result



by

SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 21 Jan 2023, 3:07 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Jan 2023, 4:08 PM

Cervical cancer is still one of the top gynaecologic cancers worldwide — although it can prevented with HPV vaccines, and detected with pap smear tests. As many as 80 per cent of cases can be cured, UAE doctors said, if only there is enough awareness of the disease.

Pabitra K, a 45-year-old Nepali expat in Dubai, have always thanked her lucky stars that she was able to see a doctor just before some abnormalities in her cervix turned cancerous.

She was experiencing abdominal pain, painful periods, and unusual discharge then when she consulted Dr Astha Mishra, specialist gynaecologist at Aster Clinic, Al Khail.

The doctor examined her cervix and found some issues, so she ordered a pap smear test.

Even at 45 years old, it was Pabitra's first-ever pap smear test, and she was shocked when it showed abnormalities in her cervical cells. It was a warning sign.

Samples were then sent for biopsy, which also came back positive.

“However, the result also offered hope. The abnormality was not cancerous yet — it was in the advanced precancerous stage,” Dr Astha explained.

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It took Pabitra some time to come to terms with the pap smear test result. “I remember breaking down in front of Dr Astha. I was never expecting any bad news. But the abnormal result was heartbreaking,” she recalled.

“Even after about two years, I remember the day vividly. I was inconsolable. The doctor reassured me that it could be cured through a procedure. I underwent the procedure, and it was a success. I had then regularly performed screening tests to see for any recurrence of the abnormal growth,” added Pabitra.

Dr Sivaprakash Rathanaswamy, surgical oncology consultant at Aster Hospital, Qusais, said Pabitra’s case could serve as a wake-up call for many women.

“It underlines the importance of screening for cancers and any other diseases. Early detection is crucial when it comes to treating cancer. Sadly, many people come to us in the advanced stages of cancer. Bringing them back to normal life is difficult. Pabitra’s case should be a lesson for others. A simple pap smear test helped us to diagnose the abnormality at a pre-cancer stage,” said Dr Sivaprakash.

Among the risk factors for cervical cancer are:

>> Smoking

>> Long-term use of birth control pills

>> Weakened immune system

>> Starting sexual relations at an early age

>> Infection with sexually transmitted diseases

“Women should undertake periodic examinations of cervical cells, and these examinations are conducted annually or every three years,”advised Dr Koulshan Mohammad Jameel, HOD, obstetrics and gynecology specialist, at Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai.

The UAE has a population of 2.3 million women aged 15 years and older. Approximately 123 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 59 died over the past years, the doctors said.

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