All sexually active women should be gynecologically examined at least once a year. The annual gynaecological examination includes the Pap test. Human warts virus infection – HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and a leading cause of precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. Pap test involves the examination of cells collected from the vagina and cervix. When cervical cancer is detected early gives you a greater chance at a cure.
- George Papanicolaou discovered a cell-diagnostic method, known as the Pap test in 1928.
- The number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer has dropped by approximately 70% due to Pap test.
- Most deaths from cervical cancer occur when women do not have regular check-ups with Pap test and therefore the early symptoms of the disease are not detected.
- The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 13,000 women suffer from of cervical cancer each year.
- 90% percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer will survive the disease for at least than five years.
- Human Papilloma virus (HPV) infection, early age at first sexual intercourse, a history of many sexual partners, smoking and other habits affecting the immune system, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, are risk factors for cervical cancer.
Pap test (during which of small sample of cells is taken from the vagina and cervix) can detect precancerous and cancerous lesions caused by HPV. Your gynecologist will evaluate the test results and if the diagnosis indicates the existence of ASC–US, then you should repeat the Pap test after three or six months. If you suffer from any kind of infection, you must follow the recommended treatment and then repeat the Pap test.
Colposcopy is a procedure to closely examine your cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease if your Pap test result is abnormal. This medical diagnostic procedure examines the external genitalia, vagina and cervix in magnification, with a special organ, the colposcope. The colposcope is microscope for evaluating mostly the epithelia of cervix, where pathological conditions that can be diagnosed. The procedure usually lasts a few minutes and feels like taking a Pap test.
If cellular lesions are observed in a certain area of the cervix during colposcopy, the gynaecologist will take directed biopsies for further pathological examination i.e. he will remove a small piece of tissue (or more tissue samples if necessary) and send it to the laboratory for histological examination.
Cervical ablation is the removal of some of the outer layers of the cervix. The gynecologist takes cells from the endocervix and then sent to the laboratory for further investigation of abnormalities when there is suspicion or evidence of cancer. Endocervical ablation and biopsy are often combined.
It is important to ask your doctor:
- Based on my gynaecological history and Pap test results, what options do I have? What tests should I take and what treatment should I follow?
- What do you propose I do next and for what reason?
- What are the possible risks or side effects/complications?
- When should I repeat the Pap test?