Pap Smear & Cervical Cancer


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The introduction of Papanicolau smear (Pap smear) can account for the decline in the incidence and mortality rates from cervical cancer. It is a relatively inexpensive, painless, and effective screening test that can identify cervical cancer especially among women who have no symptoms.

Recommended frequency of Pap smear

  • Pap smear should be started at the onset of sexual activity or 20 years.
  • Women with high-risk factors should have a Pap smear annually.
  • Women with low-risk factors and two consecutive negative annual Pap smears can be screened less frequently, at the discretion of her physician.

Risk factors for cervical cancer

  • sexual intercourse at a young age
  • multiple sexual partners
  • women who become pregnant at an early age
  • cigarette smoking
  • wives of men who were previously married to women with cervical cancer
  • HIV infection

Symptoms of cervical cancer

Most women have no symptoms. Some women may experience postcoital spotting or irregular bleeding. In advanced cases, bloody or purulent, odorous discharge and pelvic pain may appear.

Preventive measures

  • Sexually active women should undergo regular Pap smear to detect abnormalities.
  • Women should limit the number of sexual partners.
  • Stop smoking.

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