Schedule Regular Pap Tests – It Could Save Your Life

It’s very easy for a busy woman to pay careful attention to ensuring the health of her family and ignore her own. Women without familes can easily become so focused upon their careers that they neglect routine checkups. No woman should ignore a regular the pap test.

A pap test is no woman’s idea of fun. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. However, it doesn’t really take very long. Those few minutes of discomfort could become the most important few minutes of your life.

What is the Purpose of a Pap Test?

A pap test or pap smear tests a woman’s cervix for malignant or pre-malignant cells. Regular testing can detect abnormalities, hopefully before they have become full-blown cancer. The tests are not 100% accurate, but many lives have been saved because of problems discovered by pap tests.

Cervical Cancer

About 10,000 women every year will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,700 women will die from this awful disease. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment. In cervical cancer, abnormal cells are growing out of control. It is often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be contracted through sexual contact. There are many different types of HPV, not all of which will cause cervical cancer.

Ovarian Cancer

Abnormal cells can also alert a physician to the possibility of ovarian cancer. This is a very sneaky and serious disease. It’s entirely possible for ovarian cancer to grow undetected until is has spread to other organs and is beyond treatment. Ovarian cancer is only found in 3% of the cancers found in women, but is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer of women’s reproductive systems.

Uterine Cancer

It’s not known exactly what causes a uterine cancer to develop, but over 65,000 women are diagnosed each year. This is the fourth most common cancer among women. Early treatment is extremely important. When diagnosed early and treated, the 5-year survival rate is a promising 95%.

Symptoms

Cancers of the reproductive systems may or may not have symptoms, which is why a pap smear can be crucial. If any of these symptoms are observed, make an appointment with your gynecologist. Symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Lower belly or pelvic pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Abnormal discharge

For more women’s health issues, visit community.healthywomen.org. Stay healthy and enjoy life to the fullest.