Pap smear is a test explicitly done to diagnose cervical cancer. This procedure checks for the presence of cancer or cancerous cells in the cervix. Every year, millions of women are diagnosed with uterine cancer. Do you know that a Pap smear gives you a greater chance of detecting cervical cancer early? A pap smear test is primarily suggested to women by doctors to see the changes in your cervical cells, which may indicate the chances of cancer in the future. Therefore, your first step in preventing the possible growth of cervical cancer is detecting these abnormal cells in its initial stages with a pap smear test. Speaking to Onlymyhealth about the importance of getting a pap smear test is Dr Deepika Aggarwal, Senior Obstetrician and Gynecologist, CK Birla Hospital for Women, Gurgaon.
Who Needs A Pap Smear Test?
According to Dr Aggarwal, women should undergo a Pap smear test every three years, starting at the age of 21. Some women may have an increased risk of cancer or infection. Women who are at greater risk of disease may need frequent tests, for instance, if:
- You are HIV positive
- You have undergone chemotherapy or any transplant.
- You have a weak immune system.
Also, if you are over thirty years of age and have not had a regular Pap smear test, then ask your doctor once every five years if the test can be combined with papillomavirus (HPV) screening. At the same time, women older than 65 years of age, with a history of typical Pap smear results, may be prevented from being tested in the future. You should have a Pap smear checked regularly based on your age, regardless of the status of your sexual activity, as the HPV virus may remain dormant for many years and then suddenly become active.
How Is A Pap Smear Test Done?
The Pap smear test can be a bit uncomfortable, but it is done very quickly and easily by a doctor, causing little to no inconvenience. During the Pap smear process, you lie on a table with your legs spread out on your back and support your feet with stirrups. After this, the doctor will slowly examine your vagina. The device used during the test keeps the walls of your vagina open, trying to reach the cervix. In this examination, the doctor will take a small sample of cells from your cervix. This sample can be collected in the following manner:
- During this test, a tool called the spatula can be used.
- Some doctors use both a spatula and a brush.
- Others perform this test with a device called Cytobrush.
- Most women feel the gentle push and burn during brief scrapings.
After this test, you may feel mild discomfort with scraping or slight cramps. Additionally, you may also experience very mild vaginal bleeding immediately after this test.
What factors can cause a false or negative result?
- An inadequate collection of abnormal cells
- A small number of cells
- Inflammatory or blood cells obscuring the abnormal cells
Keep These Things In Mind
- Pap smear test should not be done during the period or until 4-5 days after that.
- Avoid having a physical relationship until 24 hours before the test.
- Do not use any cream in Vagina before this test.
The primary goal of a Pap smear test is to know the cellular changes in the cervix (human papillomavirus, HPV could cause that). By detecting cervical cancer cells early, treatment can start before it spread. You can contract human papillomavirus from having physical intercourse. To lower your risk, practice safe methods of intercourse. And, be vigilant about your health by going in for regular check-ups.
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