Screening for Cervical Cancer

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Cervical cancer is common among women after fourth decade. Unlike most cancer types, screening for cervical cancer can actually prevent the disease from developing. Most western countries have successfully implemented cervical screening and preventing cervical cancer. As a result, cervical cancer is no more leading type of cancer among women in western countries as well as it is causing fewer deaths. Regular screening for cervical cancer and follow up can prevent the disease successfully. However, due to lack of resources, cervical cancer is still a leading cause of cancer death among women in developing countries, because the screening tests cannot be fully implemented due to lack of funding and resources. In developing countries, cervical cancer is still a common health problem.id-100475418

There are two tests done for cervical cancer screening:

  1. Pap smear test
  2. Detection of hpv (human papilloma virus)

Pap smear test:

This test is recommended for all women between 21 years and 64 years of age. This is a simple test and it can be done at doctor’s clinic or a lab. Pap smear test looks for precancerous cell changes in cervix. These precancerous cells can turn cancerous later if not treated properly. During pap test your doctor insert a plastic (sometimes metal) speculum into your vagina to widen it and examines cervix and vagina and collect cells mucus from cervix and nearby areas. These are then examined under microscope for presence of any precancerous cells. If some cells are found to be precancerous, appropriate measures are taken.

Hpv test:

Test for human papilloma virus (hpv) can be done at the same time during pap test. The mucus and cells collected during pap test can be checked for presence of hpv in lab. Human papilloma virus is a known cause of cervical cancer; hence, presence of hpv in the sample (cervical cells) is a great risk of cervical cancer. This need to be managed appropriately, by regular follow-up screening tests (mainly pap smear test).

When to get screened?

You may start screening for cervical cancer (pap smear and hpv detection) at about 21 years of age and follow up on regular interval as recommended by your doctor. Regular follow-up should continue until 64 years of age.

Test results may take few weeks. If it is found that, your test result is not normal, your doctor will consult you about further follow-up or other measure that may be required. Do not neglect and get PAP smear test and test for HPV done regularly as recommended by your doctor and prevent cervical cancer.

 

Image courtesy of [Toeytoey] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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