Did you know that since the creation of the cervical cancer screening in the 1950’s (AKA “pap test”), there are now 70% fewer cervical cancer fatalities per year?
It’s true: when pre-cancers and early cancers are found during a pap test, the chance of preventing future cancer is simply amazing.
With such a great cancer-prevention track record, you would think all women ages 21-65 would take advantage of such a fantastic test. Unfortunately, the national average is only around 56%. Some women think that if they are too old to have children, or if they’re not having sex anymore, they don’t need a pap test. Not true! Many things can trigger possible pre-cancer, so your best bet is to Get The Test. And here’s the best part: after a normal pap test result, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three whole years until your next one.
The pap test only checks for cervical cancer, while different types of cancers (ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar) require different tests. No need to get all of them at one time – let your doctor guide you. When cancer cells are discovered in the early stage, you don’t even know they exist. That’s why getting the pap test is so important – to find those silent cells. As you know with all parts of your body, if anything seems “different” than usual, talk about it with your doctor. They’re used to answering questions, and you know there’s nothing they haven’t already heard.
After you get your pap test, your doctor will call you with the results. If your test comes back “abnormal”, don’t panic – there are many reasons why test results may not be considered “normal”. It usually doesn’t even mean you have cancer. Call your doctor, get the information you need, and take the next step. Your doctor will explain any details or treatment, and guide you all the way.
If you are 30 or older, you can also choose to add an HPV test to your pap test. The two tests are done by your doctor at the same time, and if your pap/HPV “co-test” comes back normal, your doctor may let you wait as long as five years, before your next one. If you are over 65, have had normal pap test results for many years, or had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions (like fibroids), your doctor may tell you that you do not need to have the pap test anymore.
Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, as long as you remember to get your pap test and follow up with your doctor regularly. So take action, Smart Woman. Get The Test.
If you’re ready to learn more about this amazing cancer-preventing test, here’s some information about Test Results, and a fun graphic information poster, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Infographic poster: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/infographic.htm