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May 2017

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Why Smear Testing For Cervical Cancer Is Vital

May 19, 2017

Many of the most dangerous risks to women’s health can actually be prevented in a high proportion of cases. This is usually a case of getting regular check-ups and tests done to make sure than any minor issues never get the chance to become more severe over time when they’re left undiagnosed and untreated.

One prime example is cancer, which still costs thousands of lives every year unnecessarily. Certain types of cancer are related exclusively to the female reproductive system, and one of these is cervical cancer. Although cancer is diagnosable and treatable at later stages, by far the most effective and safest option is to prevent it ever developing by monitoring and dealing with the earliest signs.

Smear testing, also known as pap testing, is something that’s highly recommended for women throughout their lives. This is usually conducted by a gynaecologist, and involves taking a tiny sample of cells from inside the cervix, the lower section of the womb which extends towards the vagina.

After taking the sample, your doctor or gynaecologist will have the results analysed and draw a conclusion about the nature of the cells. They will either be classed as normal or abnormal. Around 7-8% of smear tests will give an abnormal result.

Abnormal does not necessarily mean that a cancerous tumour has formed, and in fact this is a very rare result. What it does mean is that certain cells are demonstrating unusual genetic changes, which is known as dyskaryosis. In most cases, dyskaryosis will not be a long term problem and no serious consequences will happen.

However, your medical professional may want to find out more, in which case they may carry out a colposcopy (where a colposcope is inserted into the vagina, allowing the gynaecologist to see the extent of the dyskaryosis in more detail). This is the typical next step in the process, and it can determine whether treatment will be recommended or not. Additional waiting time might also be recommended to see if the problem resolves itself without the need for treatment, as it often does.

Even if dyskaryosis needs to be treated to reduce the risk of cancer developing, the success rate for treatment is very high, and increasingly so when smear tests are taken regularly enough to catch the problem early. The most serious cases of dyskaryosis will almost always take a long time to develop, and it is only when tests are not done regularly that cervical cancer is more likely to develop undetected.