Jul 10, 2011

Cervical Cancer

By Khadeejah Islam

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa baraka tuhu ladies!

This year, I have had the privilege of attending a seminar on the prevalence and prevention of cervical cancer. After the seminar, I was greatly enlightened about this topic. With this article, I wish to take you all to a virtual journey into the seminar insha’Allah. Since Islam is a way of life which enjoins us to take care of our health, I hope this will be beneficial for the readers, insha’Allah.

Our Lord! Give unto us in the world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and guard us from the doom of Fire.” [1]

Cancer is the unusual growth of tissues. It can be detected in many areas, such as the ovary, breast, colon, rectum, lung, stomach and Fallopian tube. Cervical cancer is the malignant tumor of cervix located at the opening of the vagina. Every year, around 500,000 women are diagnosed with it and approximately 270,000 die. The data is insufficient as the urban population is surveyed only. However, this can be cured in 97% women if diagnosed in earlier stages, as with any other cancer or even disease. This is a sexually transmitted disease, that is, the virus passes through skin-to-skin genital contact. This is different from other sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS and gonorrhea because you cannot be protected fully via the condom as other genital areas will remain exposed. It is caused by an infectious virus named Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which comes from the man. However, not all types of HPV are cancerous. There are 13 types of cancerous HPV. HPV 16 and 18 are the main types of cancerous ones. Usually, it takes 2-20 years for the virus to develop into a cancer, after a persistent infection, that is, the virus being in the vagina for more than 2 years. Since HPV 16 and 18 are not mutative (they are not changing forms like HIV), they are easier to eradicate, Alhamdulillah.

The symptoms are as follows:

1. Post-menopausal bleeding

2. Abnormal bleeding (in menstruating woman), that is, bleeding continuously without any regular menstrual cycle

3. Post-coital bleeding

4. Unusual heavy and often foul-smelling discharge from the vagina

5. Pelvic pain

These symptoms may not necessarily mean that you have reasons to panic. However, if these symptoms are present, you should be visiting a doctor soon for a normal check-up.

This can be prevented in 2 ways:

Screening (Pap Smear)

Vaccine is the primary prevention through which the HPV can be eradicated. Harald zur Hausen got the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008 for discovering this vaccine. Alhamdulillah, cervical cancer is the only cancer which has a primary preventive vaccine called the Cervarix. This is suitable for girls/women of above 10 years of age till she is 55 years old. There are 3 doses – second dose is 1 month after the first and the third dose is 6 months after the second. This is strictly not recommended for pregnant women. In general, the vaccine protects the woman for 5.5 years. However, the protection may extend till 8.5 years or even 20 years, which means that usually no frequent “booster” dose is required. After the vaccination, pain, swelling and redness may occur. Vaccine protects partially because there are other types of HPV (other than HPV 16 and 18) which can affect. Hence, screening should be done side-by-side.

Screening (Pap smear) is the secondary prevention. It is a test which can identify individuals who have the potential to develop cancer in the near future. This is suitable for women of 18-64 years. This needs to be done after every 3 years. This reduces the chance of developing an advanced stage of cancer by 93% since the woman is constantly monitored.

If the cancer is in an advanced stage when diagnosed, the treatment will include an exposure to 35 days of radiation, after which she will be safe insha’Allah for 10-12 years.

According to a premature, ongoing research, HPV may cause penile cancer in men. However, whether men should be vaccinated is still a debatable issue. Insha’Allah, in a year or so, the results of the research will be more dependable for commenting.

Since this is a sexually transmitted disease, the preventive measures (vaccine and screening) should be done before any sexual exposure of the woman, that is, before marriage. However, as mentioned above, these measures will continue even after marriage and if you did not know before marriage, there is nothing to panic insha’Allah. You can still consult a doctor, have yourself checked up and then adopt the appropriate preventive measure as recommended by your doctor.

Please share this article insha’Allah if you have found it beneficial. Please feel free to point out any mistakes or add in details since this article is based on a seminar and the doctors there could not discuss all the aspects of this topic. And of course, in any case, consult a gynecologist.

[1] Qur’an 2:201

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)


Asalamu alykum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatu!

May Allah (swt) reward you immensely for this article! It was very enlightening and beneficial. May Allah (swt) protect us all from this disease! Ameeeen.

Walaykum asalam wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatu =)

Very informative post! Women still shy away from
discussing these issues and finding the solution. Awareness about these
diseases is a must in the whole world.

Cancer care

Walaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa baraka tuhu!

Ameen to your prayers. I am glad you liked this article. Please share it with others and enlighten many more women!

Thank you! I agree with you completely. Please raise awareness by sharing this article.

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