Cervical cancer is one of leading causes for death among women, with at least 74,000 deaths annually. According to 'Cervical Cancer Global Crisis Card' released by the Cervical Cancer-Free Coalition, India represents 26.4 percent of all women dying of cervical cancer globally.
However, the good news is that it can be treated, if diagnosed in its early stage. Periodic testing or cervical checkup can help detect abnormal cell changes in your cervix, which can be treated before they develop into cancer.
What is a Pap test?
A Pap smear or Pap test is a pelvic exam, which is one of the most crucial and effective tests to screen for cervical cancer. The test is done to look for changes in the cervical cells. Pap test is a sample of cells taken from the cervix, which is collected for testing it in the laboratory. Prepare for the pap test by discussing with your doctor on the procedural details.
Periodicity of Pap Tests for Various Age Groups:
The periodicity of pap test to be done, is based on the age and your risk factors. Cervical cancer is caused by Human Paillomavirus (HPV) which is mosThose above the age of 30 are normally recommended to go for HPV test along with Pap test. Although vaccines are available for prevention of cervical cancer through HPV, it may not completely prevent from the virus, as all types of HPV are not. Ideally women over the age of 21 years should go sexually transmitted diseases especially if you are sexually active.
How does HPV spread?
HPV is spread by direct contact and causes genital warts which can lead to cancer. There are more than 100 known types of HPV, some cancerous and some not. HPV infection may not create any symptoms and so it can remain in the in the body, leading to delay in diagnosis of any cancerous cells. Hence periodic checkup of pap test, reveals any such abnormal cells which can be immediately identified and treated.
The HPV vaccine can help prevent HPV infection. It can be given to males and females 9 to 26 years old.
Women 21 to 29
Women in the age group of 21- 29 are recommended to go for tests every 3 years. In case of any abnormal cells, the frequency of tests must be increased depending on your doctor’s advice. Because of the strong immunity among the women of this group, they can get rid of the warts without much effort.
Women 30 to 64
For women in this age group, both Pap and HPV tests must be done every 5 years, only if the cells are normal or else a Pap test (without a HPV test,) every 3 years is preferred.
Women older than 65
Women above the age of 65 need not have any pap tests but must discuss with your doctor on what is appropriate for you.