A routine cervical screening helps prevent cervical cancer. It is used when making a diagnosis of cervical cancer; however, its primary role is to detect any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, thus preventing the development of cervical cancer. It has been medically proven that regular cervical screening lessens the likelihood of a cervical cancer developing in a female.
An abnormal result does not imply that you have cervical cancer. However, if the results show abnormalities, treatment is needed to prevent and stop the occurrence of cancer.
Cervical Screening: How It’s Done
During a cervical screening, the patient is asked to remove her clothing from the waist down. The patient will then lie on her back on the examination bed with knees bent and ankles together, letting the knees fall open. A speculum will be put inside the vagina by a health care practitioner (doctor or nurse). With the speculum already in the vagina, the health care practitioner will widen it gently, allowing the vagina to open and the cervix to be seen. Then, the health care practitioner will gently scrape some cells from the surface of the cervix by using a small brush. Once the sample cells are obtained, it will be put into some liquid and sent to a laboratory for examination. At the laboratory, the sample cells are put on a slide. They will be examined using a microscope.
Importance of Routine Cervical Screening
It is a fact that cervical cancer is a disease that can be prevented. Although a cervical screening test is not specifically used to diagnose cervical cancer, it helps in detecting abnormalities before any harm can occur in the long run.
Cervical screenings have helped in decreasing the cases of cervical cancer in recent years. As a result, a drop in the number of women dying from cervical cancer has also been seen. In most cases, the abnormal changes found through cervical screenings do not mean cancer.
What Do the Results Mean?
Results of a cervical screening test can be normal, inadequate, or abnormal. An abnormal result is categorized into borderline, mild abnormalities, moderate abnormalities, severe abnormalities, and possible cancer cells.
Borderline – This is the mildest abnormality observed on the test. Borderline change means the cells are not normal but the pathologist cannot say whether these indicate dyskaryosis (where cells are abnormal but not cancerous). Very few patients with this result develop cancer.
Mild abnormalities – This is also called mild dyskaryosis. Mild abnormalities can return to normal even if left untreated.
Moderate and severe abnormalities – Also known as moderate dyskaryosis and severe dyskaryosis, respectively. Having these kinds of results does not mean you’ll develop cervical cancer, but compared with mild dyskaryosis, moderate and severe dyskaryosis do not go back to normal on their own and will need treatment.
Possible cancer cells – These could either be glandular or invasive neoplasia. Glandular neoplasia means there’s an abnormality in the womb’s lining, while invasive neoplasia may suggest cervical cancer and thus require further tests.
Cervical screening tests can also be used to check for HPV (human papilloma virus), which is the common cause of cervical cancer.
The Effect of a Cervical Screening Test
A cervical screening is often avoided by women out of fear. Most of them refuse to undergo the test as they have a preconceived notion about it. Some women are scared that it might be a rather painful procedure. The process could go painlessly in some women, while cause slight pain and discomfort in others. The pain is tolerable and is a tiny price to pay for the results it generates. However, the test is just a measure of safety and is critical. It helps to rule out the presence or detect the likelihood of cervical cancer. After a certain age, a woman undergoes a lot of changes in her body. These changes may be physical, emotional, or hormonal. The hormones that govern the body cause a lot of mood swings, physiological changes, and alterations to general health. When nearing their forties, women are more prone to hormonal imbalances, cancers, and other diseases. Preventing diseases is better than battling them later in life. For these reasons, cervical screening is important. It helps to detect any changes in the cervix.
How Important Is the Screening?
The effects of the screening are positive, as they help yield favorable results for women. By favorable is meant that it gives brutally honest feedback of what is happening within the body. Cancer can be prevented or dealt with only if detected in the early stages or even before it happens. Once the damage is done, its reversal becomes tough. Cervical screening, or a smear test or Pap smear as it is also called, can be booked at a hospital or clinic. Set an appointment and fix a slot for the test as soon as possible. Sometimes, certain conditions might cause irritation and at that point of time, the doctor might ask to defer the test. It is essential to get yourself checked before going through the screening. Every woman’s body is different, as is her tolerance to pain.
Cervical screening can figure out if abnormal cells have started developing in the cervix. These cells can be removed, and cancer associated with cervical cells can be eliminated. Depending on the extent of abnormal cell growth, the stage of cancer is determined in conjunction with the damage it has caused to the body. Framing a regular screening as a healthy habit can help nip the cause in the bud. This way, many women can safeguard themselves against cervical cancer. The number of deaths associated with it can be brought down drastically. Thus, making cervical screening a part of your regular check-up can help you stay away from this common form of cancer. Cancer can develop and spread very rapidly, and having a cervical screening is the best way to stay away from fatal conditions.