All you wanted to know about the Cervical Screening Test and its importance in preventing cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is an alarming disease, very common in women; a disease that often goes unnoticed till it has reached an advanced stage. The key to its cure is early detection and for that periodic Cervical screening tests are a must.
What is Cervical Screening?
Cervical Screening Test Trivia
Around 900 women die of cervical cancer in England each year
Regular cervical screening can prevent around 75% of cervical cancers developing
Cervical cancer rates have halved since the 1980s, largely due to most women regularly having cervical screening
Cervical cancer happens because of abnormal growth of cells in the cervix. Cervical Screening or the smear test as commonly called is a test done to examine the cervix cells for any abnormal changes. This test does not help diagnose cancer, but helps detect any changes in the cervix cells, which if left untreated could lead to cancer sooner or later. This test aims at checking the health of the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer from developing.
Why does one need cervical screening?
Cervical cancer is preventable, as the signs that this cancer may develop can be detected quite early through screening tests; hence the patient can be treated without delay to prevent the cancer from developing.
Not getting cervical screening tests done on the other hand is equivalent to taking a risk for developing cervical cancer.
Who should take the Cervical Screening Test?
Women in the age group of 25-64 are advised to take the cervical screening test every three to five years. However, women who smoke, have several sexual partners or who began having sex at a very early age are more susceptible to cervical cancer and hence, must ensure that they keep up with their screening appointments as advised by the GP.
Women 65 years and above are advised to take this test only if they have not been screened after the age of 50 years or who have in their recently done past tests had abnormal test reports.
The test technique
In a cervical screening test, some cells are taken from a women’s cervix, placed in preservative liquid and then sent to a laboratory for examination. In the lab, the person in charge examines these cells under a microscope for abnormalities.
The test result
The result of such a test is either normal/negative or abnormal. One must keep in mind that an abnormal result does not always indicate cancer; it can also mean that the lab has found some changes in the cells that might require further investigation. Sometimes one may also be called back for a repeat test, as her test could not be conducted on account of the absence of visible cells.
Is the test result reliable?
Similar to other screening tests, results of cervical screening are also not always perfect, yet statistics show that this test helps early detection and prevention of cancer in over 75 percent cases.
Sometimes the test results might not be correct because the person examining the slide may not be able to detect the abnormality; or many a times it is difficult to tell a abnormal cell from a normal one and hence the abnormality may go undetected.
Research shows that over 80 percent of cervical cancer occurs in women who did not keep up with their screening appointments, hence, the best step one should take to avoid cervical cancer is attend their screenings regularly.