Apollo Hospitals’ surgical oncologist says cervical cancer deaths in MENA expected to double by 2035

Approximately 6.4 per 100,000 females in North Africa and 3.4 per 100,000 females in the greater Middle East suffer from this condition


Cervical cancer deaths in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to double by 2035 as this preventable disease remains to be the number one killer of women across the region, according to a surgical oncologist at Apollo Hospitals Navi Mumbai (AHNM).

Dr. Shishir Shetty, Head-Oncology Services of Apollo Cancer Centre noted that approximately 6.4 per 100,000 females in North Africa and 3.4 per 100,000 females in the greater Middle East suffer from this condition. It is frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44.

“Globally, more than 250,000 women die of cervical cancer with half a million new cases are being reported. The highest rate of cervical cancer has been recorded in Swaziland, followed by Malawi and other countries in Africa and South America. At our centre alone, we handle roughly 10 to 15 new cases every month and they mostly come from African countries,” Dr. Shetty said.

Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Most of the infections caused by HPV do not manifest any symptom and they usually go away on their own, but the virus is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide.

HPV vaccinations have been recommended for the prevention of infections leading to cancers. Dr. Shetty also recommended that women, especially those in their late 30s and up, should consider undergoing regular screening tests such as Pap smears and visual inspection with acetic acid for early detection of pre-cancerous lesions. Married women are also advised to have annual check-ups with their gynaecologists.

Dr. Shetty pointed out that treatments have improved over the years alongside technological advancements in the medical field. He cited a recent case handled by Apollo Cancer Centre, which successfully treated a patient with advanced cervical cancer using a combination of targeted chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

“Also, early pre-cancerous lesions can now be treated through fertility-preserving surgeries. For advanced cases, the introduction of targeted therapy and excellent radiotherapy machines has changed the way we treat cervical cancer. We have also witnessed a higher survival rate and quality of life for the patients,” he added.

He encouraged women to consult their doctors and discuss how to be screened for cervical cancer. He emphasised the importance of catching the disease early on for higher chances of beating this type of cancer.


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