Pap Smear Test – The Process to Detect and Address Cervical Cancer
Generally cancers are formed from oncogenic cells. These are the cells that are affected by oncogenes; genes that stimulate uncontrollable cell division leading to formation of tumors. When such a tumor occurs in the cervix of a woman’s body, it causes cervical cancer and the pap smear test is the test which is used to detect and confirm this.
The cervix is the area near the uterus of the female anatomy. The anatomical opening connecting to the cervix is the vagina. For the examination of the area during the pap smear testing, the examiner will insert an instrument called the speculum into the vagina. Unlike other similar devices, the speculum is used to enable direct vision. Once the cervix is visible, the manual procedure of cleansing the cervix with a cotton swab is carried out. A sample of cells are then collected and studied under the microscope.
Pap smear testing can be carried out on a regular basis to check for any kind of abnormality. Getting tested in primary stages even before the development of cancer can help treatment greatly. It is advised that women should take their first pap smear test at 21 years of age or soon after they start indulging sexual intercourses. Women aged between 18 and 65 years are also encouraged to regularly get tested
In a healthy body the cells will have regular structure and functioning. But abnormalities may cause irritation, inflammation and discomfort in the genital regions. In case of benign swellings, treatment may include removal of the cervix. The procedure is called Hysterectomy. However, this may not be needed for all abnormal growths or lumps as in the case of subtotal hysterectomy, where the uterus is removed but the cervix is left intact. In such case, regular taking the Pap smear test becomes inevitable.
The American Cancer Society advocates that the examination should be carried out after 3 years of intercourse and regularly after every 2 to 3 years for women above the age of 30. Further, they recommend cessation of the testing only after 70 years of age or incase of total Hysterectomy as discussed above. However, different organizations promote different norms, but it is necessary for women of our country to stay updated plus informed. The internet is one great platform for the same. There are many medical videos, articles, papers, websites, forums, etc which can help us protect ourselves and live a healthy life.