One of the most preventable cancers in gynecology is actually cervical cancer. With regular follow ups and tests for screening, there are two different tests you can use to find out early and screen for this disease.
One test is called the HPV test which looks for a specific virus that can cause changes in the cells.
The other test is called a Pap smear or a Pap test which looks for any changes in the cervix cells that may be precancerous. If no appropriate treatment is given, cervical cells could develop into cancer.
Results of a Pap Test
After you get a Pap smear and are waiting for the verdict, it can take up to twenty one days to receive results of your test. Your physician will get in touch with you to explain the next steps in the event your test indicates that something may not be normal or that something does not seem right. In fact, there are more than a few possible reasons that results of your test might indicate something that needs to be addressed. Keep in mind that if your doctor tells you that your Pap smear indicated something, this does not automatically mean that you have cancer.
Your doctor will let you know in the event treatment is necessary if the results of your test indicate abnormal cells that may develop into cancer. Many times, cervical cancer is prevented when the right treatment is undergone. It is a good idea to get an immediate appointment after you get your tests done to find out about what the results of your tests are and what necessary treatments are available if needed.
Regular Pap Tests
Starting the age of twenty-one, you need to be getting Pap tests regularly. This is a reliable way of getting screened for cancer of the cervix and happens to be one of the most effective and reliable available tests for screening cervical cancer.
As a matter of fact, cervical cancer is the only cancer that a Pap screen tests. It does not test for other cancers such as vulvar, vaginal, uterine or ovarian. If you get a regular pap smear and notice symptoms or signs that you don’t normally see, get to the bottom of it all by seeing a doctor. If you get normal Pap smear results, your physician will most likely advise you to get another one after three years.
For women aged thirty and above, you might decide to do a Pap smear as well as an HPV test. These tests are both done by your physician simultaneously. The term for getting both tests done at the same time is co-testing. When you get normal test results, your chances of getting cancer of the cervix are quite low for the next few years. In fact, you might be advised by your health care physician to get tested again after five whole years. Of course, this does not mean that you should not set appointments for a regular check-up from your physician.
It is recommended for you to still get a Pap smear if your health care practitioner recommends it particularly if you happen to be twenty-one to sixty-five years of age. Even if you no longer go through sexual intercourse or are over the age for bearing children, you still need to get a Pap smear if your doctor advises it.
On the other hand, if you have fibroids or non-cancerous conditions, have had a removal of your cervix done for a hysterectomy or have had normal results from a Pap smear year after year, your doctor may advise you that you no longer need to undergo Pap tests.
Who Should Get a Pap Smear?
Every woman aged twenty-one to sixty-five should get a Pap smear. This can be done in the clinic of your doctor or at his office. What happens during a pap smear is that a speculum, which is a metal or plastic instrument is used for widening the vagina. This enables an examination of the cervix and vagina done by a doctor. From the cervix and the surrounding area, mucus and a few cells are collected. Cells are then put in a bottle of liquid or on a slide before getting sent off to a lab. The lab checks to ensure that the collected cells are all normal.
If you get both a Pap smear as well as the HPV test all in one go, the collected cells will also be tested for the virus at the lab. Is the HPV test right for you? Talk to a health care practitioner, nurse or doctor about whether you should get one.
When you get a Pap smear, the doctor might also do a total pelvic check up on other organs such as your ovaries and uterus. This is done to make sure you are not going through any issues. Of course, even if you don’t go through a Pap test, it is still possible for your doctor to do an exam of your pelvic region. If you are not sure, ask your physician which test you are getting.
Guidelines for Screening for Cancer of the Cervix
The American Cancer Society provides recommendations and guidelines for screening for cancer of the cervix with regards to getting screening tests done among those who have also gone through an HPV test. There are also guidelines for pelvic exams, getting screened after complete hysterectomies, when screening should be stopped, screening intervals and methods as well as what age or situation to begin getting screened.
Getting screened for cancer of the cervix as well as knowing all there is to know about the different tests available for your age group may be a life-changing decision. In fact, it may be the difference between prevention and treatment.