Lack of awareness on the risks of child marriage is the main cause behind the rise of cervical cancer in Bangladesh, speakers said at a roundtable yesterday marking Cervical Cancer Awareness Day 2019.
They also said that no woman should die from this type of cancer if it is diagnosed early and treated accordingly, adding that to fight cervical cancer, proper health education is needed.
March for Mother and the Rotary International jointly organised the discussion at the VIP Lounge of Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
“If three methods -- vaccination at the age of 9 -14, public awareness and screening for the women aged between 30 and 60 -- are implemented, cervical cancer could be prevented effectively,” said Prof Dr Sabera Khatun, chairman of Gynecological Oncology department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
Speakers also pointed out the increased risk of cervical cancer caused by “sex before 16” and “sex within one year of first menstruation”.
“Abnormal bleeding such as bleeding between menstrual periods, after having sex, untimely menstruation or after menopause is a symptom of this type of cancer. Unusual colour and odour of bleeding, frequent and painful urination, and pelvic pain are other symptoms,” said Dr Habibullah Talukder Ruskin, associate professor of National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH).
If at least one of these symptoms appears, he suggested going to the doctor for screening.
“Due to economic reasons, many women with cervical cancer don't want to come to hospital for treatment. It's a fact, but cervical cancer could be diagnosed free of cost in several districts and upazillas,” said Prof Dr Swapan Bandopadhyay of Radiation Oncology department at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Prof Syed Abdul Hamid, director of Institute of Health Economics of Dhaka University, urged the authorities to increase treatment facilities at government hospitals.
AFM Alamgir, governor, Rotary International District 32281, and singer Samina Chowdhury also attended the event.