When you hear “pap smear, what do you think of? Smearing pap on something? Definitely not! A pap smear is simply a test!
Georgios Nikolaou Papanikolaou, A Greek physician who was one of the early physicians to delve into cythopathology and early detection of cancers, invented the pap smear in the 1920’s. The test was named after it’s inventor.
What is a pap smear? A pap smear is a test for cervical cancer. It is a diagnostic technique in which cells are scraped from the the entrance of the uterus(the cervix) after which they are tested for cancerous growths. Precancerous cells are cells capable of causing cancers. They are initiated by strains of the Human papillomavirus(HPV). Mind you, cervical cancer is not caused by HPV alone. A woman’s genetic history, sex life and general lifestyle have a role to play as well. 91% of cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted HPV.
Now, this is where your Pap smear comes in. It is recommended that every woman between the ages of twenty one and sixty five get pap smears done once in every three years. Women aged thirty and above can consider pap tests once in every five years if the test is combined with a HPV test. A HPV test detected the presence of the Human papillomavirus.
It is very much easier to treat cervical cancers diagnosed from a pap smear than full blown ones. This greatly increases the chances of survival and it is the major reason the importance of regular pap smears is always emphasized on.
According to a study by the International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery, it was shown that “This cancer is one of the few cancers that can be easily detected at pre-malignancy phase”. This is another great reason not to ignore a pap smear! Every year, 14943 women die from cervical cancer in Nigeria and a whooping population of 50.33 million women from age fifteen are at a risk of suffering cervical cancer.
The general fear women show in the face of HPV and cervical cancer has caused so many other women to wallow in ignorance and never do pap smears. Although the fear is inevitable, but it is never enough reason to not get a pap test. There is the issue of misdiagnosis on the part of doctors, but this problem is gradually fading now. With the right facilities and professionalism, the issue of misdiagnosis and other common errors doctors make with pap smears is highly mitigated.
There are so many myths surrounding pap Smears too. These old wives tales have stopped so many women from testing. Some women believe pap smears hinders reproduction. Others believe it is a painful thing to undergo. No woman, a pap smear cares for your vagina health as well as reducing your chances of dying from cervical cancer to the barest minimum. A pap smear is no major surgery. It does not hurt as you believe. You may feel mild pain but not an excruciating pain. Fallacies associated with pap smears should be discouraged.
For better Pap results, women are advised to a schedule a period free time for a pap smear. Douching and sexual intercourse is also discouraged two days before the test. All forms of Vaginal or Spermicidal creams and related materials should not be put into the vagina two days to a pap smear unless states otherwise by the doctor.
With the increase in Pap smears and women enlightenment, less deaths from cervical cancers and the Human papilloma virus would be recorded.
Hey woman, get a pap smear done!