Fear of the Crab

[warning]The following post is NSFW and Medical in nature[/warning]

“Take my uterus. Take it out.”

That’s what I was subject to today.

The patient had no issues with it. She was healthy and in fact pre-menopausal. She wanted it removed. To the point she was making up symptoms that she clearly didn’t have.


Fear of the Crab.

I didn’t have time until lunch so I sat with her then. I asked her why she “really” wanted it removed.

She told me about her mother dying in agony from Carcinoma of the Cervix. Cervical Cancer to the man on the street. The deadly disease spreads fast through India’s population coupled with high birth rates and poor hygiene. Slow treatment often means a poor prognosis.

Fear of the Crab made her want to remove an organ she was happy to live without. She was so scared she was happy too undergo a pretty major surgery to protect her life from a disease that she didn’t even have.

She still is in the ward demanding the procedure. The joke is that she may be right. She comes from a part of India where Ca Cervix is very common. Many women want to remove the instrument of their death pre-emptively.

And the ultimate irony is that we have a vaccine for that…

The HPV vaccine saves lives. Vaccinate your daughters. Vaccinate your sons if you can.


  1. says

    My child is now old enough for the HPV vaccine and will be getting it as soon as I can wrangle it with the other parent. I truly wish this was something I’d been young enough to get. My mother had a tumor in her uterus and eventually had to have a hysterectomy for it. It worries me that I or my child will have to go through the same. At least I can protect my child.

    It scares me that so many parents are opposed to giving this vaccine to their child at a young age, as if this will encourage them to start having sex at a young age. Do you want your child safe and possibly having sex in the future or possibly having sex in the future and eventually in pain or dead because of HPV transmission? This is but one of many reasons why I’m an atheist now. I don’t have to fight dogma to keep my child healthy.

  2. says

    I’m having a hard time seeing what is NSFW about this post. Uteruses are about as NSFW as lymph nodes.

    FWIW, my solidly middle class WASP American mother, when she was just hitting menopause, had a Pap smear that showed some ambiguous anomalies. Her doctor recommended biopsy. She told her doctor exactly the same thing as your Indian patient: “Take it out.” Which they did. So I don’t think this is a culture-bound or localized phenomenon.

    Also, FWIW, some years later I had a dear colleague at work who started having frequent bouts of hiccups, which she laughed off for the longest time. By the time she went to see a doctor about it, her uterine cancer had metastasized, and she died a few months later.

  3. says

    Some people get squeamish when I discuss medical stuff or the whole “Calculation of Suffering”. It is cheaper for this woman to simply get a hysterectomy than face down cancer. So prophylactic hysterectomies are a “thing”. The HPV vaccine isn’t widely available in India. And it’s pricey when it is.

  4. says

    Oh, as a Type 2 diabetic (aka metabolic syndrome) with Type 2 Bipolar disorder (Depression and Anxiety), I’m intimately familiar with the the Calculus of Suffering, and every damn day is a [first world] struggle.

    But Christ [substitute culturally appropriate swearword here}, uterine cancer sucks.

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