Cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer in women. It is highly prevalent in India, and is also responsible for highest number of cancer deaths in Indian women.
Cervical cancer is caused due to a prior infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is a preventable disease, but it is growing due lack of regular screening in women.
A PAP test is a simple test for detecting cervical cancer and also for identifying pre-cancer cells that indicate a high risk of cervical cancer in future. It can be performed by a physician, gynecologist or a trained nurse.
The common type of cervical cancer usually takes around 10 years to develop, which is why regular PAP screening becomes a must.
It is important for women of all ages to get regular PAP smears:
- Young women (21 to 30 yr.): First test is recommended at the age of 21 yr., and then repeated every 2 years.
- Women over 50: As the risk for cervical cancer increases with age, women above 50 are more likely to get a positive diagnosis than younger women.
- Women over 70: To be continued till the woman has had two consecutive normal tests.
- Women post hysterectomy: Depending on the procedure, if the cervix is intact, tests should be done.
- Pregnant women: A Pap test is done as a part of early pre-natal care. It is very important to get this check-up as an undiagnosed, untreated infection poses risks to the baby.
- Immunosuppressed women: Women with inherent immunosuppression or those on immune suppressing medications have a high chance of contracting the virus, making regular testing even more necessary.
Points to remember:
- It is the only cancer for which there is a vaccine available.
- Over 80 per cent of women who were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer did not take regular PAP tests.
- PAP tests should be done more frequently after an abnormal result
- A regular PAP screen is a must even if have taken the HPV vaccine
- A regular PAP screen is a must even after hysterectomy.
- Menopause does not protect older women from cervical cancer.
- Risk of developing cervical cancer increases with age.
To know more about cervical cancer and its risks, get in touch with Healthspring’s Gynaecologists. You can protect yourself or your loved one from cancer, by making PAP tests a part of your regular health care.
Avail the Healthspring Women Health Plans – these are specifically designed age-wise plans tailored to address the health issues faced by women at every step.
Get a complete health assessment done at the earliest- visit your nearest Healthspring today!