The recent guidelines regarding the screening for cervical cancer

Following are the recent guidelines regarding the best time and method to screen for cervical cancer:
  • The ideal time to start a cervical cancer screening test is at the age of 21.
  • Women between ages of 21 and 29 must do the cervical screening test at least once every three years. The best screening test for this age group is pap
    smear. No need to do human papilloma virus test unless the pap smear test is abnormal.
  • Women between ages of 30 and 65 should do the recommended screening test at least once every five years. The best screening method for this age group
    is both pap smear and uuman papilloma virus test.
  • Women above 65 with no history of previous abnormal screening results can stop doing the screening test.   
  • Any woman who had a surgery to remove her uterus and cervix can stop doing the screening test.  
  • Taking the human papilloma virus vaccine don’t protect one 100% from cervical cancer; patient should continue her screening program as recommended for
    her age.
  • Any woman in the high risk group for cervical cancer, such as unvaccinated women or families with history of cervical cancer, should follow another special
    screening program depending on her risk. Patients should consult their doctor to address this issue.
  • Recently, it’s recommended not to do the pap smear yearly, as the cervical cancer takes more than ten years to develop, and the procedure of pap smear is
    time and money consuming without high yield outcome.

Pap Smear

Pap smear is basically a screening test for the diseases of cervix. Cervix is the lower part of the uterus and it opens in the vagina. Cells are scraped from the
opening of the cervix and tested under the microscope for diseases.

Overview of Pap Smear
Pap smear is the short name for Papanicolaou test; Papanicolaou is the name of the scientist who invented the test. Pap smear is basically a screening test for
cancer of the cervix. It detects the potentially precancerous and cancerous changes in the cervix. The changes can be treated if detected on time, hence one can
prevent the disease.

How pap smear test is performed?
The patient is asked to lie on the bed with feet in the stirrups. An instruments known as the speculum is inserted into the vagina and opened slightly. It allows the
doctor or the nurse to see inside the cervix thought the vagina. Cells from the cervix area are gently scraped and sent to lab for microscopic examinations.

Are there any preparations for pap smear test?
Estrogen or progestin containing drugs may interfere with test results. So it is wise to inform the doctor or nurse about all the prescription and non-prescription
drugs being taken before the test. Previous history of pap smear tests should be reported as well. The doctor also should be advised if you are or could be pregnant.

It is recommended to avoid a bath, douching, tampons or having intercourse 24 hours before the test. Periods might affect the accuracy of the pap smear test, so
scheduling for the test should be done accordingly.

How will the test feel?
A sense of pressure might be felt during the exam. Some amount of menstruation like discomfort and bleeding may be noted after the exam.

When should the test be performed?
The pap smear is done to screen for cervical cancer. Early detection of the test leads to early treatment and cure. It is recommended that the screening be started
at age of 21. You should consult your doctor to confirm how many tests you need and at what interval should you have them.

What is the Normal result?
A normal test result means that there are no abnormal or cancerous cells present. However, you should consult your doctor to understand the meaning of the test

What is an Abnormal result?
The abnormal results are grouped into various categories. They include:
  • ASGUS – Atypical cells of uncertain significance
  • LSIL - Low grade dysplasia
  • HSIL - High grade dysplasia
  • CIS – Carcinoma in situ
  • ASC-H – Atypical squamous cells with HSIL
  • AGC – Atypical glandular cells
Doctor should be consulted for further information about abnormal test results. A follow up test or further testing might be needed in such cases.


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After the development of screening program for cervical cancer,
the incidences of cervical cancer had been substantially declined
during the last decades. Finding cervical cancer, treating, and
even preventing its early development are the main benefits of
the proper screening test.

Cervical cancer is unique among other types of cancer because of its direct relation
with a viral infection known as
Human Papilloma Virus. That’s why getting the vaccine
against human papilloma virus is a very effective way in preventing the development of
cervical cancer. The best time to get vaccinated is before getting in to any sexual activity.
According to the recent recommendations, the best time for the human papilloma virus
vaccine is at the age of 11. Regular screening test is very important.

Two types of cervical cancer screening tests

  • Pap smear: It’s a very effective and fast test to detect any cellular changes in the cervix. Usually the doctor will take the sample
    from the cervix and send it to lab to get the result. This screening test helps to diagnose and treat any suspicious cells before they
    become cancerous.

  • Human papilloma virus test: This screening test aims at diagnosing the infection with human papilloma virus, thus treating it
    early before it causes the cancerous changes on the cell. This test can be used in combination with Pap Smear.




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