A procedure for the testing of cervical cancer in women is called a Pap smear or a Pap test. In this procedure, the doctor collects cells from your cervix. It is the narrow lower end of your uterus that is above your vagina. If there is early detection of cancer with the help of a Pap smear, there is a better chance of getting cured. The detection of cervical cell changes that indicate the risk of future development of cervical cancer is also possible through a Pap smear. This can be a lot of help in preventing the development of cervical cancer. According to the opinion of the best oncologist in Kolkata, you should begin Pap smear at the age of 21 years.
Frequency of Pap smear tests
Most of the doctors advise that women between 21 to 65 years should repeat Pap smear every three years. Those women who are 30 years of age and older can go for Pap smear every 5 years if they combine testing for HPV with this test. Whatever may be your age, you should undergo Pap smear more frequently if you have certain risk factors including:
- A diagnosis of cervical cancer or a Pap smear showing precancerous cells
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
- HIV infection
- Weakened immune system
- A history of smoking
A cancer specialist in Kolkata gives some tips prior to your Pap smear test to ensure best results:
- It is better to avoid a Pap smear during your menstrual period.
- Before having a Pap smear, avoid intercourse, douching or using any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams or jellies for two days.
During the Pap smear
When you go for a Pap smear, you may have to undress completely or from the waist down. You will have to lie down on your back on an exam table with your knees bent. There will be supports called stirrups under your heels. Into your vagina, the doctor will insert an instrument called a speculum. The doctor can have a clear view of your cervix as the speculum holds apart the walls of your vagina. You can feel pressure in your pelvic area when the doctor inserts the speculum. With the help of a soft brush and a spatula, the doctor will collect samples of your cervical cells.
After the Pap smear
There are normally no restrictions after the Pap smear. The doctor sends the samples to a laboratory for testing under a microscope. If a cancer doctor in Kolkata finds that the cervical cells are normal, it means that you have a negative result. The doctor will say that you have a positive result if it is found in the test that there are abnormal or unusual cervical cells. The doctor may suggest some other tests if your Pap smear is abnormal.