My dear lady, regular preventative care is one of the most important ways to maintain your health over time. If you wait to see your doctor only when you notice a problem, it may be too late.
Cervical cancer screening is especially important for women’s health. Unlike with breast cancer, there isn’t anything you can do at home to help detect cervical cancer. It poses as much of a threat to the lives of women in the UAE as throughout the world; an important health and economical concern.
It became a necessity to raise awareness of the importance of cervical cancer screening, especially here were women typically avoid discussing such private topics, and how the disease can be easily prevented if the right precautions are taken.
What facts I need to know about it?
Cervical cancer is one of the world’s deadliest but most easily preventable forms of cancer for women, yet many still put off having the life-saving Pap smear test. In spite of the well-known benefits of the Pap smear test, still a very small number of women come in for cervical screening.
“Many women unfortunately do not do a Pap smear – maybe due to lack of awareness, financial obstacles, fear of the test, embarrassment, being busy and an underestimation of the importance of such tests,” says Dr. Amaya. “Yet Pap smears are so important.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), regular Pap Smears can help to prevent up to 90 % of the most common type of cervical cancer. A Pap smear is a quick and simple test used to check the health of the cells on your cervix. Early detection is vital since most women do not report noticeable symptoms until after the cancer has spread to other organs.
“Pap smears can detect early precancerous changes on the cervix,” explains Dr. Amaya. “These changes can be easily treated, thus dramatically reducing the risk of progression to cervical cancer.”
How often should I have a Pap smear?
The American Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that women should have a Pap smear every two years starting at age 21. After age 30, you may decrease the frequency to every three years if you’ve had three normal Pap test results in a row and if your immune system has not been weakened by a virus or recent health condition.
How should I prepare for a Pap smear?
The presence of any substance in the vagina can lower the accuracy of your Pap smear test result. You are encouraged to avoid vaginal douching or engaging in intimate contact for two to three days prior to having a Pap smear to enhance results accuracy. Also it`s preferable not to proceed for Pap smearing during your monthly period as this too can interfere with the accuracy of the test.
Pap smears are generally painless and usually done during a pelvic exam. Your cervix will be swabbed with a brush or cotton swab to collect cells from its surface, and then these cells will be sent off to the lab for analysis to see if there are any abnormal cells present.
A sincere advice is always welcome
Having a measure of control over a problem is a good thing to have. Though cancer is a shocking issue which touches lives the world over every day, it is somewhat comforting to know that, in the case of cervical cancer at least, there are measures you can take to minimize the risk of it impacting on your life.
Having Pap smears at recommended intervals is probably the most important thing a woman can do to protect herself from developing cervical cancer. “We are very, no… extremely fortunate that we have a type of cancer where changes start about ten years before the cancer actually develops, and moreover, such changes are so easy accessible to examination,” says Dr. Amaya … adding, “And even if you have precancerous cells, why the worry? You remove them and you will never come close to cancer. It would be such a shame therefore to miss this opportunity.”
I wish you everlasting health,
Dr. Amaya Carreras
University of Barcelona – Spain