Oncology deals with treating cancer after you have been diagnosed with the condition. However, preventive oncology is a specialized branch of oncology, where the aim is to prevent cancer in your body. Michael Shimkin from the University of California coined the term preventive oncology in 1975, for the science of primary and secondary prevention of cancer in the human body.
Prevention of cancer depends on the factors responsible. One of the primary causes is viral infections – responsible for 17% of cancer cases around the world. Amongst them, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is one of the leading causes of cervical and anogenital cancers
HPV and cancer
HPV is a common reproductive virus, mainly found in women after they engage in sexual intercourse. Even though such infections are common, you will not be able to feel any symptoms from the infection. Within 2 years, the infection clears off without the need for any treatment. However, if the infection persists, women may develop cervical pre-cancer. At this stage, without any preventive measures, the condition will progress to cervical cancer later in life.
In most cases, HPV infections take around 10 years to progress into a cancer of the cervix. Therefore, preventing HPV infections can help prevent cervical cancers. HPV vaccines can help avoid such infections. Furthermore, engaging in safe sexual encounters is key to avoiding HPV and preventing increased risk of cervical cancer.
Tests that help make preventive oncology possible
Since in preventive oncology the aim is to determine the risk of cancer in the body and reduce those risks, special tests are necessary to look for pointers of cancer.
1. Liquid-based cytology (LBC)- This is a relatively newer diagnostic test for cervical cancer. Here the cytological samples are collected in liquid vials, instead of slides. A slide is later prepared at the lab. LBC reduces the number of slides required for the test and increases the sensitivity to the test. Furthermore, it enhances the ability of smear readers.
2. Digene HC2 test- This is the new favourite cancer prevention diagnostic test. It can successfully screen a patient against the presence of 13-high risk HPV strains. These types of virus are carcinogenic and responsible for cervical cancer. The test uses advanced Hybrid Capture 2 technology to detect the presence of specific HPV types. Both of these tests are essential in the prevention of cervical cancer in your body. Speak to your oncologist today about preventative measures, if you think you have HPV infections.