According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most frequent cancer among women in Nigeria and the 2nd most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age.
Cervical cancer is characterized by a malignant tumor in the cervix. The cervix is referred to as the birth canal, as it links the uterus to the vagina.
Cervical cancer can be caused by many factors but mostly by a long-lasting infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Some other risk factors include:
- Having multiple sexual partners which could increase one’s exposure to HPV
- Smoking cigarettes
- Long term use of birth control pills
- Having a sexually transmitted disease
- Having multiple pregnancies
- Having a weakened immune system
Cervical cancer forms slowly which gives room for early diagnosis of abnormalities in the cells of the cervix and promotes immediate action and preventive measures to ensure it doesn’t get to a cancerous state.
Pap smear is a routine screening procedure carried out to detect any abnormal changes in the cells of your cervix. It is a crucial part of women’s healthcare and plays a significant role in the early detection and prevention of disease. Women generally between the ages 18-65 years are medically advised to have a pap smear done at least every three years or as advised by your doctor.
Outlined below are some key points highlighting the importance of Pap smears:
- It aids the early detection of abnormalities in the cervix which gives you a better chance at getting cured before it develops to cervical cancer
- Pap smears, along with HPV testing develop screening guidelines for women. These guidelines help healthcare professionals determine the frequency of screenings based on age, risk factors, and previous screening results.
PREPARATION FOR PAP SMEAR TEST
Before your test, adhere to the following instructions for at least 48 hours:
- Do not schedule a pap smear test during your period.
- Do not have sexual intercourse
- Do not douche.
- Do not insert anything such as medications or tampons in your vagina
SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL CANCER
Cervical cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages, which is why routine screenings, such as pap smears are crucial for early detection. As it progresses, some noticeable symptoms but not limited to include;
- Abnormal vagina bleeding
- Persistent or unusual pelvic pain
- Unusual vaginal discharge which may be bloody, watery or have a foul odor.
Cervical cancer prevention, involves the combination of several strategies such as:
- Getting vaccinated against HPV.
- Participate in regular pap smear screenings, as advised by your health practitioner.
- Practice safe sex and limit the number of sexual partners.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
If you are within the recommended age bracket to have a pap smear done, fall in the category of one or more risk factors or have experienced any of the symptoms listed above, quickly visit www.chayimds.com or give us a call to schedule an appointment for your pap smear test as soon as possible.