Cancer of the cervix is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths amongst women worldwide. The best way to detect cervical cancer is by going for a regular Pap Smear Test. This is the test for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus or the opening of the uterus which is attached to the upper part of the vagina. In this procedure, the cells are scraped from the cervix and examined under the microscope.
The test can be combined with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) screening HPV is a virus causes warts. The primary causes of cervical cancer are HPV types 16 and 18. If you have HPV you may have increased risk for developing cervical cancer.
Reasons for doing Pap Smear Test:
Screening for cancer cells: For the screening of cervical cancer at an early stage screening guidelines vary from country to country. General screening starts about at the age of 20 or 25 years and continues until the age of 60, 65 or after that also screening is recommended every three years. If HPV testing is done with Pap smear thus it is done every five years. According to ACOG guidelines, Pap smear is recommended from the age of 21 until the age of 65. If the girl is not sexually active till 21 then it is not recommended. If the Pap smear is abnormal. Then it is recommended after six months to 1 year depending upon the abnormality or colonoscopy may be required for a closer look.
For early cancer detection: Have regular Pap smear done after menopause because incidences of cervical cancers increase with age.
When you may need or not need a Pap Smear:
If the patient had a hysterectomy for noncancerous diseases then Pap smear is not recommended.
If the patient had a hysterectomy for a cancerous reason then do Pap smear.
If the patient had a partial hysterectomy then continue testing as normal.
If the patient had HPV vaccine continues testing as normal.
The procedure of a Pap Smear Test :
The best time to do a Pap smear is when women are not menstruating. Before Pap smear avoids intercourse, vaginal medication, vaginal contraceptives like jelly or cream. There are two types of Pap smear:
Conventional Pap: in this smear sample taken is directly seen under the microscope slide after collection.
Liquid based cytology: Sample of cells in taken from the transformation zone, squamous columnar junction of the cervix between the ecto and endo cervix. The LBC has arrow shaped brush rather than a conventional spatula.
Your doctor shall recommend you a Pap Smear Test based on your medical condition.