Role of a PAP smear in screening cervical cancer

Role of a PAP smear in screening cervical cancer

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You need preventive care on a regular basis and it is also one of the crucial ways to maintain health over a long time span. Waiting to go see a doctor only when you see some symptoms or problems, may just be too late a thing. You have to get one thing straight and that is – screening for cervical screening is crucial for the health of a woman as Dr. Punita points out. But, when and how it must be done has recently been a subject of debate. The current ACOG (American society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians) guidelines recommend that age wise 21 years onwards, you must have your PAP smear test. Here is why it is so important.

What do I need pap smear for?

If you have been going to a gynecologist then the Best gynecologist out there is going to recommend and advise PAP smears as they help in detecting precancerous changes earlier, on your cervix. According to the gynecologists, these changes are easily treatable hence they reduce the risk of cervical cancer from progressing further. However, there are certain things you need to be aware of and these are:

Pap smears will not detect the cervical cancer because they are only designed for detecting precancerous changes or any form of cervical dysplasia.

When the PAP smear detects abnormal cells, the Best women doctor can take all the necessary steps for figuring out the major culprit behind the changes and then treat this condition before it takes the form of cancer.

When should women begin and stop getting PAP smears on a yearly basis?

The ACOG recommends that women must get PAP smears done within the three-year time after they have had their first sexual intercourse or after 21. Some women can discontinue the PAP smears right after they have turned 65 but then that would be an individualized decision that would be based on the risk factors. Also, such a decision would be in conjunction with the gynecologist they are visiting.

Who are recommended PAP smears more frequently?

If you possess specific risk factors then you must frequently go for the PAP smears, irrespective of age and these factors are inclusive of

  • Anyone with a smoking history
  • Anyone with a weak immune system owing to use of chronic use of corticosteroids, chemotherapy, and organ transplant
  • Anyone that has HIV infection
  • Anyone who had exposure to the DES (diethylstilbestrol) before birth
  • Anyone’s whose cervical cancer diagnosis or the PAP smear test displayed precancerous cells.

How to prepare for a PAP smear?

According to the best doctors and gynecologists the presence of any kind of substance in your vagina hinders the PAP smear’s accuracy. Hence it is recommended that women must avoid engaging in sexual activities or douching for three to two days before the test so that it yields more error-free results.

What is the process like?

Remember it is a painless exam that is done usually when you go for a pelvic examination. You will be positioned on a table and the doctor will insert a “Speculum”. On insertion of the speculum inside your vagina, it is going to open it wide, giving the doctor a good view of your cervical area. Lastly, the doctor shall swab the cervix with a cotton swab or brush for collection of cells and then analyze it to check the presence of abnormal cells.

We suggest you have a thorough consultation with your doctor because it may seem like an uncomfortable irritant but is extremely crucial to keep women belonging to any age bracket healthy.

AUTHOR

Dr. Punita Arora

All stories by: Dr. Punita Arora
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