Cervical cancer is fast claiming the lives of scores of women. The cancer has a slow and an insidious onset and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths amongst women. The diagnosis of cervical cancer takes place when the normal cells found in the cervix of the woman turn into abnormal cells and start to grow out of control.
The cervix is the narrow part of the uterus that connects the uterus to the vagina. It is also acts as a birth canal for the passage of the baby during delivery. While cervical cancer can prove to be fatal if left untreated, it can now be prevented with the help of some simple tests and procedures that help diagnose it at an early stage. Here is a step-by-step method to prevent and test for cervical cancer.
At the very outset, you need to be screened for cervical cancer with the help of a test called as a PAP test or a PAP smear. This test can be easily performed at the doctor’s office and is done to screen for cervical cancer. The test needs to be done if you are 21 or older or are sexually active. The test must be repeated once in every 3 years. Even older women above the age of 65 need to be screened for cervical cancer. Early detection helps in identifying abnormal or pre-cancerous cells, which can then be treated. Hence, this test is crucial.
Test For Cervical Cancer
The PAP Test
A PAP test lasts for about 2-5 minutes but it does not hurt. It may be slightly uncomfortable. In this, you are told to lie down on the examining table.
The doctor inserts an instrument called as a speculum inside the woman’s vagina to see the opening of the cervix. Cells of the cervix are collected with the help of a brush and these cells are then sent to the lab for testing. The doctor may also do a general pelvic exam to check the health of the uterus and the ovaries.
Plan for your PAP Test
It is important to schedule your PAP test in a timely manner. Call your doctor beforehand. A general PAP test can easily be covered and scheduled under a medical insurance plan. Get your PAP test done at a time when you do not have your periods. Make sure you do not use tampons, douches or lubricants and jellies before the test. Avoid having sexual intercourse a day or two prior to the exam.
The HPV Vaccine
The HPV (Human Pappiloma Virus) is one of the biggest causes of cervical cancer and this virus is responsible for a large number of STDs. Contracting an infection is high if you are sexually promiscuous and have more than one sexual partner. Your risk of getting cervical cancer also increases if you started having sex at an early age and indulge in unprotected sexual intercourse. A vaccination for infection against HPV is now available at most clinics. Get yourself vaccinated and ask your doctor about the correct age of vaccination in case you have a daughter.