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April 24, 2014

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Cervical cancer rise ‘due to sexual habits’

SEX from an earlier age and with more partners has led to a huge increase in cervical cancer among young Shanghai women, experts said yesterday.

Young people aged from 15 to 24 are most vulnerable to human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer, said Shi Huijing, an associate professor of the School of Public Health of Fudan University.

Having sex from an early age and with multiple partners increases the risk, said Shi, at the launch of a cervical cancer prevention education program.

In Shanghai, 10 percent of women with cervical cancer are younger than 35, according to the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

This compares to a figure of less than 2 percent in 1970, said officials.

While HPV infection will not necessarily lead to cervical cancer, other factors — including smoking, microbe infections, vitamin deficiency and hormonal and immune system issues — can trigger the disease, Shi said.

Having a steady sexual partner can  lead to a lower likelihood of HPV infection, the experts said.

The incidence of cervical cancer is second only to breast cancer among cancers of women in China.

China sees more than 100,000 new cervical cancer cases every year — about 25 percent of the global figure.

The average age for developing cervical cancer in China is about 40 years old, with women in urban areas developing it earlier than those in the country.

If pre-cancerous changes are detected in time, patients can be completely cured of cervical cancer, experts said.

HPV vaccines are frequently targeted at children in early adolescence who are not yet sexually active.

It is recommended that HPV vaccines are given to 11 or 12-year-olds to prevent them from becoming infected, say doctors.

As well as through sexual contact, HPV can be spread through sharing contaminated objects.

Many people are not aware of the infection because there are no obvious clinical symptoms in the early stage.

The education program will last five years and will be conducted in 14 cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, to increase awareness of how to prevent the disease.


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