A technique to Prevent Cervical Cancer in Women

Cervical cancer is the only female cancer preventable, detectable, and treatable if detected at early stages. But still, it is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. India alone accounts for 1/3rd of the total global cervical cancer deaths, with women facing a 1.6% cumulative risk of developing cervical cancer and 1.0% cumulative death risk from cervical cancer.

The primary reason for Cervical Cancer is a lack of awareness about the screening tests among women and the general population. Hence, creating such awareness about cancer screening tests becomes necessary at every stage of the health care system. Women should be encouraged to have yearly gynaecological check-ups and the required screening tests like Pap Smear for cervical cancer.

What is a Pap Smear?

A Pap test is done in a part of a uterus called the cervix (mouth of the uterus). Pap Smear, also known as Pap Test, is a screening test to detect cervical cancer at its earlier stage, to provide proper treatment to reduce the death risk. The test can be performed in a few minutes.

How is it done?

After giving a proper position, a speculum is inserted in the vagina for appropriate visualisation of the cervix. With the disposable wooden spatula, cells from the external cervix are collected, spread on a glass slide, and fixed with a fixator. A similar procedure is carried out on the internal part of the cervix called the Endocervix, and a glass slide is prepared similarly. These slides are sent to the laboratory for examination. Typically, the results may take one or two days to arrive. Some patients may feel minor discomfort or pressure in the vagina during the procedure.

Besides identifying abnormal or cancerous cells, a Pap test can also help diagnose the cervix’s infections or inflammation.

How often should you get your Pap Smear done?

It depends on your age, medical history, and previous Pap reports.

It is essential to go for a yearly health check-up and visit a gynaecologist to maintain your health. Screening tests are crucial with the increasing age, and a Pap Smear is advisable for women of ages ranging from 21 to 65.

Common recommendations are

Before 21 It is advised to start getting your Pap Smear from the age you become sexually active.

21 to 24 years It is recommended to get a Pap test done every three years, but only if your test results are normal.

Otherwise, get your test done as suggested by the physician, depending upon the abnormal results.

The same applies to women between 25 to 65 years.

Above 65 With the declining risk for women with normal screening results, further Pap tests may not be advisable.

However, women with a weak immune system, cervical issues, and risk factors should get the tests done frequently and regularly as suggested by the physician. These risk factors involve

An abnormal Pap Smear that showed the development of precancerous cells

Exposure to DES when in the mother’s womb

Infection like HIV

History of smoking

Organ transplant or chemotherapy

Chronic corticosteroid use

How to prepare for your first Pap Test?

It is natural to have fears, anxiety, and concerns before undergoing the first Pap test. However, the gynaecologist in Delta hospitals makes every effort to release your stress and alleviate anxiety through proper counselling before conducting the test.

Precautions to be taken while scheduling your appointment

Be sure to get your Pap Smear done on a day other than your periods/menses when you are not at all bleeding.

Avoid any vaginal intercourse, douching, or application of any medicine in that area before the test because this may hamper your test results.

What After the Pap Smear results arrive?

If the test results are normal, there is no need to worry, and you can stick to the regular testing routine as mentioned above.

If the test results are abnormal, don’t panic. If the changes are minor due to some infections or inflammation of the cervix, the doctor will suggest the treatment accordingly. But suppose the changes are major or more serious (precancerous cells/lesions). In that case, the doctor will advise you to undergo a Colposcopy or Biopsy, whichever is necessary to rule out or confirm any cancerous changes. Because at this stage, the decision and the complete course of further treatment become crucial.

As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”, and hence it is essential to undergo screening tests like Pap Smear from time to time to prevent worse from happening. With the best gynaecology services in Delta hospitals, we always recommend women get their Pap tests done regularly for a stress-free and healthy life ahead.