Know the Ways to Test for Cervical Cancer

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( — October 27, 2017) — A Pap test is performed in women to check for cervical cancer. In this procedure, the cells are collected from the cervix which is the narrow end of the uterus and placed lower in the uterus at the top of the vagina.

It is important to detect cervical cancer with a pap smear test early so that the chances of it getting cured are high. The test can also be used to check for any changes that may happen in the cervical cells which may suggest that cancer may develop in the future. When detected early, it will stop the development of cervical cancer.

The pap smear test is done along with a pelvic examination. In women who are over the age of 30, a pap smear is done along with a human papillomavirus test which is a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer.

High risk of cervical cancer

You can consult your doctor about when to start doing the pap smear test and also how often you can take the test. Most doctors suggest beginning the test from the age of 21. Doctors may even recommend doing the test after every 3 years and those who combine the test with HPV can do the test every 5 years.

Women who may be recommended frequent pap smear test are:

  • Those who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer or show precancerous cells
  • Exposed to diethylstilbestrol before birth
  • Infected with HIV
  • Have a weak immune system because of an organ transplant or chemotherapy

A pap smear test may even give a false result. The factors that may cause a false result are:

  • If the cell collection is inadequate
  • If the number of abnormal cells are very small
  • If the inflammatory or the blood cells obscure the abnormal cells

It however takes a lot of time for the cervical cancer to develop and if one of the pap smear tests are not able to detect it then there is a high probability that the same will get detected when you do the next test.

Colposcopy test

The doctor may suggest a Colposcopy test if the Pap test is not normal. In this process the cervix, vulva and the vagina is examined closely to check for any signs of the disease. A special instrument called Colposcope is used. If any unusual area of cell is found then the sample tissue is collected for testing in a lab.

Many women experience anxiety before a Colposcopy exam and it is thus important to know what to expect from the examination. Colposcopy is used to diagnose:

  • Any inflammation in the cervix
  • Genital warts
  • Any changes in the cervix which shows that it is cancerous
  • Any changes in the tissues of the vagina that shows that it may be precancerous
  • Any precancerous changes found in the vulva

Risks of doing a Colposcopy test

The procedure is safe and there are hardly any risks involved. The rare complications that occur are:

  • Infection
  • Pain in the pelvic
  • Heavy bleeding

It is important that one calls up a doctor if she experiences heavy bleeding, fever, chills or a severe pain in the abdomen after a Colposcopy. These are signs of a complication and needs immediate medical help.