The cervix is the mouth of the uterusand is located at the upper part of the vagina when the cells in the cervix start growing abnormally and dividing rapidly, they cause cervical cancer. When these cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, it is called metastasis. More than 80% of the cervical cancer cases occurred in developing countries. Yet is the most easily preventable gynecological cancer with regular screening.
Screening is when we check for cancer when there are no symptoms. Screening is important as abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be detected early, before they turn into cancer.
How can screening be done? Screening can be done by cytology (also called the Pap smear) or testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) or co-testing (pap smear and HPV test did simultaneously at the same time ). Most cases of cervical cancer occur in women who have never had a Pap test or those who have not had a Pap test within the past 5 years.
How does screening help in Cervical Cancer incidence? The incidence of cervical cancer is now declining gradually over the past years only because of screening and early detection by the Pap smear. Cells taken from the cervix are taken for the sample in both of these tests. The screening tests are easy and take a few minutes only. Screening helps in detecting these abnormal cell changes at an early stage because if precancerous changes are found they can be treated before they turn into cancer. It takes approximately 3 – 7 years for high-grade changes in cervical cells to become cancer.
What can the results of Cervical Cancer screening suggest? Many times we may find abnormal screening results. It does not usually mean that the woman has cancer. Most abnormal findings require only follow-up or minor treatment. You should talk to your doctor about the Pap/HPV test result and what the result means. In some cases only, additional testing like colposcopy (examination of the cervix with a microscope) or cervical biopsy is needed to know the severity of the changes. Thus screening can save the lives of women by detecting cervical cancer early by providing an opportunity to prevent or treat any abnormalities before they become life-threatening.