Pap test: taking time to protect yourself from cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer for women. This cancer is often caused by a virus. According to an article in Seminars in Oncology Nursing, this virus is called Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. This virus is why women are urged to have an exam called a Papanicolaou (Pap) test. Up to Date recommends an exam every three to five years. The cancer caused by this virus is cancer of the cervix. The cervix is located at the end of the vagina and connects to the uterus. The uterus is a necessary part of a woman’s body to carry a baby. If a woman gets HPV, it could become cervical cancer. She could then need a procedure to remove her uterus. She would not be able to carry any children or any more children. This cancer can also lead to death.

However, if caught early through a Pap test, it can be treated. Treatment is different for everyone. Treatment depends on many things. Did she have HPV? Did she develop cancer? How bad did the cancer get? A Pap test allows a doctor to see the cervix for clear signs that are not always seen on the visual exam. Sometimes warts may be present but not always. A doctor will also take a sample of the cervix during the Pap test. They will use this sample to test for cervical cancer.

An individual often does not show physical signs of HPV. This is why testing on time is important. Up to Date recommends that any female that is 21 or above have a Pap test. This includes women who have not had sex yet. If a woman does not have any health problems and she does not have a positive Pap test, it is recommended she have a Pap test every 3 years. Women who have other health problems, such as HIV, may be screened more often.

Cervical Cancer is seen to be a problem in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), in 2016 $5.9 million was spent on cervical cancer patients in the hospital. This included 121 women. For every 100,000 people in South Carolina, 7.62 women on average had cervical cancer. The Pee Dee was even higher than the state average. In the Pee Dee, for every 100,000 people, 8.87 had cervical cancer.

Up to Date found that there have been cases of false positive results from a Pap test. A positive test means a patient must go to follow up exams and have more tests done. This can also cause a lot of emotional stress. Pap test can be uncomfortable. They can cause patients to feel nervous about what will happen. However, it has been shown that screening through Pap tests have led to a decrease in developing cervical cancer from HPV. It has also led to a decrease in death due to cancer. Your doctor can refer you to a doctor who can do this test if they cannot. Local health departments offer Pap tests. Many clinics also offer Pap test.