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PAP Smear Test & It's Importance For Women

By Nandhini Devi

The Papanicolaou Test, commonly known as the Pap Smear Test, is something that all sexually active women have to undergo. Pap smear test helps detect symptoms of cervical cancer and other cervical infections in women.

With the introduction of pap smear test in gynecology, the number of women who fall prey to cervical can has gone down. Pap smear test and its importance is something that all women must be aware of. Also known as cervical smear test, this test involves collection of sample cells from the outer cervix area. The cells are then tested for abnormalities. This pap smear test procedure helps in detecting abnormalities, even before you actually develop a cancer.

The result of a pap smear test can be normal, which means your cervix is healthy. Or abnormal, which means that you might be developing an infection, or cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia means that cells are precancerous, not exactly cancer cells. However, they might turn into cancer cells, if not treated immediately.

One question that comes up in every woman's mind is that at what stage should the pap smear test be conducted. The right time to undergo a pap test is between 10 to 20 days of the last menstruating cycle. Women should avoid douching, application of vaginal creams and sex two days prior to the test. This is because any of these activities will wash away the cells.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that women over 21 years of age should undergo this test. Women who are sexually active before the age of 21 should undergo this test. Women who have multiple partners have to get themselves screened very often. Else, it is recommended women between 21 to 30 years have to undergo this test once in 2 years. Women aged over 65 can stop pap smear test, if there have been no abnormalities in the last 3 consecutive tests. Women who have undergone hysterectomy (removal of uterus) due to cancerous growth have to regular undergo the cervical smear test.

What happens if the pap smear test result is abnormal? There are several treatments that prevent the abnormal cells from turning into cancerous cells.

1.Laser therapy: This procedure involves using a narrow bean of intense light to destroy the cells.

2.Cryotherapy: This procedure destroys infected tissue by freezing it.

3.Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP): This procedure uses a thin wire loop to pass electric current. This loop works as a knife to remove the tissue.

4.Conization: This procedure removes a cone shaped piece of the abnormal tissue. This is done using either the knife, laser or LEEP technique.

Apart from doing a pap smear test to check for signs of cervical cancer, women can adopt other preventive measures too. Avoiding intercourse before the age of 18 and not having many partners is a good way to keep away cancer or any other diseases.

Learn about the importance of a pap smear test and get one done today to avoid any complications in your health.

Read more about: wellness health women
Story first published: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 14:55 [IST]
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