Cervical cancer screening
Cervical cancer screening is a way for doctors to examine the cervix in order to detect early signs of cervical cancer in asymptomatic women. The tests used in screening are:
- Papanicolaou or “Papa test”
- Human papillomavirus test or HPV test
Studies show that cervical cancer screening reduces the likelihood that a woman will die from the disease.
Who should undergo this screening?
– Women between the ages of 21 and 65.
Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should take the Pap test every 3 years.
For women between the ages of 30 and 65, a combined HPV and Pap test every 5 years is considered ideal. It is also acceptable for a woman of this age group to have a Pap test every 3 years.
This does not apply to women who are at higher risk, which are:
– Women who have had cervical cancer
– Women who had precancerous lesions (dysplasia)
– Women who were positive for HPV at previous examinations or had an abnormal Pap test
– Women with HIV
– Women with immunosuppression (state of reduced immune defense)
– Women who were exposed to diethylstilbestrol during their mother’s pregnancy. Stands for women born between 1938-1971.
What are the benefits of cervical cancer screening?
– The main benefit of screening is that it helps doctors find cancer early, when it is easier to treat. This reduces the chances of dying from cervical cancer.
Do I need a Pap test if I have had a hysterectomy?
– You will need it if:
- you have had hysterectomy without removing your cervix (subtotal hysterectomy)
- you have had a hysterectomy for cervical cancer or dysplasia (precancerous lesions).
- you have been exposed to diethylstilbestrol during your mother’s pregnancy.
How do I prepare for the examination?
A Pap test or HPV test can be done at any time during the menstrual cycle. Some gynecologists recommend that you should wait until your menstrual bleeding is over before you get a Pap test. The reason for this is that there are 2 ways to take a sample and sent it to the laboratory. If a smear will be spread on a glass slide, it is important that not to have a blood cells in the smear, because it will “cover” the cells of the cervical epithelium that we sampled. If the sample is sent in a liquid medium, then the presence of blood is not a problem. Both sampling methods have the same value.
How is the Pap test performed?
– In our office, the test is performed by a gynecologist. She approaches the cervix by carefully placing a speculum in the vagina as you lie on the examination table. With a special stick or spatula, she gently removes a part of the material from the surface of the cervix and the cervical canal. The material is examined under a microscope in the laboratory, to examine the cells of the cervix. We will inform you about the result of the Pap test by phone or e-mail, as you decide.
Does the Pap test show the presence of the HPV virus?
– No, human papilloma virus (HPV) is not visible on Pap smears. However, a Pap test can show us cellular changes due to the presence of a virus.
What is an HPV test and how is it performed?
– It is a test that is performed in a similar way as the Pap test. The material taken, however, is not examined under a microscope, as in the Pap test, but is analyzed in special machines for virus detection in laboratories.
What is the difference between a Pap test and an HPV test?
– The Pap test shows whether there are changes in the cells of the cervix, but does not tell us if the virus is present, while the HPV test shows us if the virus is present, but does not tell us if there are cellular changes.
What happens when the screening results arrive?
– Don’t panic if you have an abnormal Pap test and / or HPV test. The reason why we do these tests is to discover the changes that are in their early fase, which we can easily and successfully treat.
If you did the tests in our office, we will contact you and discuss the test results with you. We are open to any questions you may have regarding the findings. The consultation is free of charge.
If you did the tests outside our office and you want to consult about the results, you can schedule an online consultation or schedule a consultation in our office.