PAP smear also known as cervical smear or the Papanicolaou test is a method of cervical screening used to detect potentially pre-cancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix, an opening or mouth of the uterus. If the result of the PAP smear is abnormal then the abnormal findings are often followed up by more advanced and sensitive diagnostic procedures to confirm the diagnosis. The test was invented by and named after the prominent Greek doctor Georgios Papanicolaou. This a routine test recommended to all women when they become sexually active.
Pap Smear: A recommendation for women:
Regular preventive care is one of the most important ways to maintain your health over time. ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) also recommends in its guideline about the annual well woman health check-ups to rule out any diseased condition for the better assessment or outcome. PAP smear is one of the other tests to detect any abnormal changes in the cervix. This is a very simple, easy and effective method of cervical cancer screening. It is done in OPD itself and hence requires no hospital admission. No anaesthesia, no other medications are required to do the test. If you wait to see a doctor only when you notice a problem, it may be too late.
When to have a Pap Smear?
Current guidelines from the ACOG recommend that women should have a Pap smear every two years starting at age 21. After age 30, you may decrease the frequency to every three years if you’ve had three normal Pap test results in a row and if your immune system has not been weakened by a virus or recent health condition.
According to the data available in India every year,122,844 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 67,477 die from the disease. India has a population of 432.2 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cancer. It is the second most common cancer in women aged 15–44 years. It is possible to prevent deaths due to cervical cancer through various strategies that target women >30 year for screening and treatment. The PAP test is helpful in significant reduction in mortality and morbidity due to cervical cancer among the women in developed countries.
In India, the onus of preventing cervical cancer is on the women themselves. If the women are made aware, knowledgeable and motivated for the screening tests then it is the best step to ensure the wellness of women in India.As everybody knows ‘ PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE’ the PAP test is the a step forward towards the health of the woman, so getting the test done is the good option. A few uncomfortable moments in a hospital may just end up saving your life in time.