A pap smear, also called a pap test, is a method used by gynecologists in which cells are collected from a woman’s cervix to test for potentially cancerous and precancerous cells.
Here are ten facts all women should know about pap tests & cervical cancer:
- A pap test is the most effective way to test for cervical cancer.
- All sexually active women between the ages of 21-29 should be screened with a pap test every 3 years; women between the ages of 30-65 are advised to get co-tested (pap test & HPV test) every 5 years, or each separate exam every 3 years.
- Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread through sexual activity.
- If your pap test results show abnormalities in the cervical cells, you may not necessarily have cancer. Your doctor will then recommend either a second pap test, an HPV test, or a colposcopy, a specialized exam to analyze the cervical cells more closely.
- Smokers are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer found in women.
- African-American women are twice as more likely to develop cervical cancer in their lifetime.
- Women over the age of 40 are more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
- If diagnosed and treated early, cervical cancer can be highly curable.
- Women over the age of 65 may no longer have to be tested for cervical cancer.
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