Cervical cancer screening is a type of screening of cancer that affects the cervix’s cells and can strike women of any age group. In the past, it was the most common cause of cancer death in women in the United States.
According to World Health Organization, Cervical cancer was diagnosed in around 570 000 women worldwide in 2018, with approximately 311 000 women dying from the disease. On the other hand, statistics state that many factors influence survival rates, including the stage of cervical cancer and the time of diagnosis.
Cervical cancer is a severe health condition, and all ladies should watch out not to fall victims. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 14,480 new instances of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021, and about 4,290 women will die from cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer develops when cells in the cervix become abnormal and increase out of control over time. The cancer cells then penetrate the cervical tissue more deeply and can spread to various body organs in advanced situations.
Luckily, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated types of cancer, as long as it is discovered early and adequately handled. That is one of the main reasons you should have cancer screening sessions to ensure you are healthy.
To all the females out there, consider participating in these cervical cancer screening programs for your own health’s sake. You do not have to be worried or ashamed because you can choose whether the test will be performed by a male or female doctor. The good news is that you can go to the screening room with a friend, family member, or spouse.
To the females concerned about how long the cervical cancer screening process will take or whether it will be painful, I can assure you that most cervical cancer screening appointments will be shorter. Most women do not suffer discomfort during the procedure, although you may feel uneasy when the doctor uses the speculum to open up your cervix.
If the vaginal muscles tighten, you may suffer pain, although this is common. Tell your doctor if you have any pain throughout the procedure. At that point, they will know what to do.
This post will cover everything you need to know about cancer screening, from the definition of screening to the many types of cervical cancer screening, the necessity of cervical cancer screening, how to prepare for your cervical cancer screening, and so on.
What is cancer screening?
Cancer screening is when doctors evaluate patients for cancer before they show any symptoms. The goal of cancer screening is to find cancer before symptoms occur.
It is necessary because it may be easier to treat aberrant tissue or cancer if it is discovered early. Screening is vital since cancer may have already spread by the time symptoms occur.
Types of cervical cancer screening
Cervical cancer can be prevented or detected early with the use of two screening tests. These tests can detect HPV-infected cervical cells and other abnormal cells before they develop into cervical cancer. They include;
- Pap tests.
- The HPV test.
The pap test
The pap test is a cancer screening that checks for precancers and cell abnormalities in the cervix that might progress to cervical cancer if left untreated.
During the Pap test, you will recline on an exam table while the doctor widens your vaginal opening with a speculum, a plastic or metal device. The speculum allows the doctor to inspect the vagina and cervix with a clear view of the cervix and upper vagina.
The doctor will then take a few cells and mucus samples from the cervix and the surrounding area using a brush or other sample equipment, place them in a specific liquid, and transport them to a lab for analysis. The cells will be examined in the lab to see if they appear normal.
The HPV test
The human papillomavirus (HPV) test screening is a test that checks for the virus that might trigger cancer cell alterations in the cervix.
The test requires a doctor to use a speculum to expand your vagina and collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it as you lie on the exam table. The cells are taken to a lab for analysis and are screened for HPV.
Why is cervical cancer screening necessary?
- Cervical cancer screening is a life-saving procedure for it helps in detecting cancer at an early stage or possibly preventing it.
- Cervical cancer screening may detect alterations before they progress to cancer because cervical cells take 3 to 7 years to develop cancer.
How to get ready for your cervical cancer screening
Because a cervical cancer screening test necessitates your doctor opening your vaginal opening and peering into your vagina, there are a few things a woman should be aware of before and on the day of her consultation.
These are some of them:
- Because of hygiene concerns and your doctor’s comfort during the procedure, you should avoid scheduling your test during your menstrual period. If your periods are irregular, it means that you are most likely to wake up on a period. Kindly If that happens, postpone the consultation and reschedule it for another day.
- Please refrain from having sex on the day of your cervical cancer screening.
- If you require accurate findings, you should not douche or scented soaps to wash your vagina before or on the day of your cervical cancer screening. Use plain water instead.
- On the screening day, you should not use birth control foam, cream, or jelly.
- You should not take medicine or cream in your vaginal area before or on the day of your cervical cancer screening.
What causes cervical cancer?
Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus, is the leading cause of cervical cancer. The “High-risk types” of HPV are those that have the potential to cause cancer.
HPV can harm the cervix in various ways, but only a few of them create abnormal cells that can lead to cancer, and some HPV infections clear up on their own.
HPV infections are primarily transmitted through sexual contact and are quite widespread. Most sexually active people, regardless of age or number of sexual partners, will contract the virus at some point in their lives.
Also, because HPV infection generally has no symptoms, many are unaware that they are infected. Other variables such as smoking, using oral contraceptives, having a weakened immune system, and being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are likely to increase the risk of HPV infection leading to cancer.
How often should cervical cancer screening be done?
At the age of 21, you can begin your cervical cancer screening procedures whether or not you are having sex or even if you have never had sex before. While the HPV virus, which is spread through sexual intercourse, is the most common cause of cervical cancer, it is not the sole cause. There are other variables at play.
The procedure is rare to anyone under the age of 21 unless they have symptoms of cervical cancer. Furthermore, giving a cervical cancer screening test to girls under 21 may cause more harm than good.
The doctor will give you a Pap test after you reach the age of 21. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may advise you to wait three years before having another one until you get 29 years.
Women between the ages of 30 and 65 have three testing options: undergo a Pap test plus an HPV test, which is known as co-testing every five years, have a pap test every three years, or receive an HPV testing every five years.
When to stop cervical cancer screening
Women who are older than 65 years of age can stop going through the cervical cancer screening tests if:
- They have had adequate prior screening and do not have a history of moderate or severe abnormal cervical cancer cells.
- Their cervix has been removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions.
- They have had three negative Pap test results in a row, two negative HPV tests in a row, or two negative co-test results in a row within the past ten years.
How to prevent cervical cancer
You can prevent the risk of cervical cancer by:
1. The HPV vaccine
The HPV vaccine is an essential tool for preventing HPV infections, the most common cause of cancer. Between the ages of 11 and 12 is the optimal time to obtain the immunization. Women up to the age of 26 could receive the vaccine if they did not get it previously.
The HPV vaccine, however, does not protect against all kinds of HPV that might cause cancer.
Women who have received an HPV vaccine must continue to follow the cervical cancer screening guidelines for their age group Frequent screening.
Cervical cancer screening should be done regularly for women between the ages of 21 and 65. Your age determines the type of screening you require.
2. Sex education
You can prevent cervical cancer by abstaining from sexual activities and getting sex education. For instance, delaying first sexual contact till late adolescence, Keeping the number of sex partners to a minimum, Using condoms to practice safe sex, and avoiding sexual relations with persons who have had a lot of relationships.
You can also prevent cancer by avoiding sexual contact with those who have genital warts or are exhibiting other symptoms.
3. Lifestyle changes
Our everyday activities have an impact on our health and lives, either positively or negatively. Having a positive and healthy lifestyle does not only help you to stay healthy but also helps to prevent cervical cancer. Practices such as Smoking cessation and avoiding oral contraceptives help to prevent cancer.
4. Observing Feminine hygiene
You can avoid cervical cancer by practicing good feminine hygiene. What are your thoughts on this? Cervical cancer is primarily transmitted through sexual contact or the afflicted person’s skin and mucous membrane.
According to one study, an increase in a bacteria known as Sneathia directly links to HPV, cervical precancer, and cancer. Miscarriage, premature labor, vaginosis, and other health problems are all associated with this bacteria. Vaginal acidity also plays a significant role. Cervical issues were more common in less acidic conditions.
We have you covered in our previous topic if you wish to know more about feminine hygiene tips. FREE FEMININE HYGIENE TIPS YOU WISH YOU KNEW EARLIER
Test results for cervical cancer screening
The findings of a cervical cancer screening can be positive or negative. However, there is a chance of erroneous results in cervical screening since there is a risk.
Many women get abnormal cervical cancer screening results for a variety of reasons. If this happens, do not panic; an abnormal result does not signify you have cancer.
Your doctor will tell you if you require treatment if your test results reveal abnormal cells that could turn into cancer. If that is the case, you will need more testing to determine whether you have high-grade alterations or cancer. When the results of follow-up testing reveal high-grade alterations, you may require therapy to eliminate the abnormal cells.
After the cell samples are taken to the lab, it can take up to three weeks to receive your test results. If this is the case, be patient; if your test indicates that anything is not quite right, your doctor will contact you and determine the best course of action.
It is also worth noting that screening has its drawbacks. As a result, you should consult your doctor before undergoing any screening test. Unnecessary follow-up testing, false-negative test findings, and false-positive test results are only a few of the risks that may come about from screening.
Sometimes, even when the cells are normal, the results may reveal aberrant cells. A false-positive result is what we call it. Cervical cancer screening may also miss the presence of abnormal cells, which is referred to as a false-negative result.
If your test results are normal, you should be fine because your cervix and reproductive system are in good shape. However, this does not rule out the possibility of cervical cancer. Continue to get those screening procedures once your doctor has given you a specified time frame to ensure good health.
Possible reasons for a cervical cancer screening false result
- A vaginal infection that occurred recently may lead to false cervical cancer screening results.
- There could be an insufficient number of cells in the sample.
- Sometimes false positives are just a result of the test’s inherent limitations.
- Inadequate number of aberrant cells to analyze
- Infection or blood may hide abnormal cells.
- Abnormal cells may be washed away or diluted by douching or vaginal medicines.
We have learned everything we need to know about cervical cancer screening from this article, and we can conclude that it is crucial. All ladies are urged to go for those screenings. Even the government is attempting to assist women in reducing the number of women who die from cervical cancer and other malignancies. It is up to you to make the necessary efforts to ensure you don’t fall a person living with cancer out of negligence.
Through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, all states make cervical cancer screening more accessible to women. This initiative offers free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screening to women without health insurance and varies from country to country.
The UICC created World cancer day in the year 2000. Every year on February 4th, there is a World Cancer Day to promote awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, identification, and treatment. The Union for International Cancer Control organizes World Cancer Day to support the World Cancer Declaration’s goals.