Did you know that cervical cancer is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent? And the test that makes it possible is Pap smear. Besides helping detect cervical cancer, this test can also expose other abnormalities and infections in the cervix within a few minutes. If you are a woman between the age of 21 and 65, you must include Pap test in your regular health screening routine so that you can detect any change in the cervical cells that can lead to cancer. You can visit a walk-in clinic in South Tampa or one near your home to get a Pap test done by a healthcare professional.
What is the Cause of Cervical Cancer?
The primary cause behind almost all types of cervical cancers is an infection due to a virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). While many people get infected with HPV at some time or the other, it is most likely that the virus will clear itself within one year. But the chances of cervical cancer increase if the virus stays in your body for a longer period, around 10 years.
Do You Need a Pap Smear?
Yes. Every woman between the age of 21 and 65 must get a Pap smear done at an interval of two to three years. And this is irrespective of whether you have had sex or not, you have only one partner, you have had your uterus removed through a hysterectomy, or you are going through menopause. Even if you have had an HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, it is important to get a Pap test done as this vaccine does not protect you from all types of cervical cancer causing HPV. If you get a Pap smear done at the recommended interval, it will be easy for you and your doctor to detect any changes in the cervical cells caused by HPV before it turns malignant. The test results will also help your doctor to decide if you need any treatment to stay healthy.
How is Pap Smear Done?
When you visit a clinic for a Pap test, the doctor uses a speculum — a medical instrument — to widen your vagina and examine your cervix. The doctor then collects some cervical cells with a brush or spatula, places them on a glass slide or a small bottle, and sends them to a laboratory. The lab then checks the cells and sends back the report to your doctor, who will intimate you on the result.
What Does an Abnormal Pap Smear Result Mean?
Nothing can be better than a normal or negative Pap test result. But in case your result is positive or abnormal, do not conclude right away that you have cancer. It simply means that the test has detected some early changes in your cervical cells, which your doctor may be able to treat. If your Pap test result is positive, your doctor may further examine your results to decide which treatment will best work for you. If your doctor thinks that the abnormalities in your cervical cells might progress to cancer, he or she may ask you to get a biopsy done. If you are detected with cervical abnormalities, your doctor may also ask you to take an HPV test It will further help in checking the growth of cancerous cells.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Taking Pap smear test at proper intervals can help you detect and address any cervical abnormalities before it is too late. All you need to do is visit a walk-in clinic in South Tampa or a place you find convenient. Just think about it ladies! With the investment of just a few minutes every three years, you can keep cancer at bay. So don’t miss your Pap test at any cost.