Screen or scream
4th Dec 2018
Cervical screening: what is it and why is it important?
You guessed it, cervical screening has something to do with the cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
But, what is cervical screening exactly? And why is it so important?
Cervical screening exists to potentially prevent cervical cancer.
Just to be clear, it is not a test FOR cancer, it is a test to help PREVENT cancer.
Cervical screening is VERY important as it is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer, do not overlook it.
There are two cervical screening tests: a pap smear and the HPV test.
The procedure of cervical screening involves Pap smear. The test looks for precancers - abnormal cells in the cervix that may turn into cervical cancer if not treated on time and correctly.
- Go to a clinic, doctor, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, midwife, or naturopathic doctor (all can perform a pap smear).
- Health care provider will insert a speculum into your vagina in order to see your cervix.
- A small brush or spatula will be used to collect come cells from the cervix.
- The sample will be sent to a lab for examination.
- Results will be sent back to your health care provider.
- If there is anything abnormal, your health care provider will let you know.
A few pointers on the procedure:
- The procedure is usually not painful but may be uncomfortable.
- An abnormal result DOES NOT mean that you have cancer
- Attend the follow-up appointments if the result is abnormal.
Reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer by up to 70% by going for a pap smear once every three years. Start getting screened from the age of 25.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) test
The HPV test is another method of cervical screening.
HPV is a very common virus that most people have at some point. It is a virus that can cause cell changes in the cervix. It is the leading cause of cervical cancer.
There are two types of HPV:
1. Low-risk – not associated with cervical cancer.
2. High-risk – can cause cervical cancer.
The procedure for a HPV test is the same as the one for Pap smear.
The difference between the two is what the sample cells are being checked for.
- Pap smear – cells tested for precancers, cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer.
- HPV test – cells tested for the virus that can cause the cell changes.
The HPV test can be performed by itself or a co-test (simultaneously with the Pap smear).
At the end of the day, it is your choice whether you want to go for a cervical screening or not.
But, bear in mind that it is one of the best ways to prevent cervical cancer.
Screen or scream.