Cervical Cancer and HPV-Reduce Risk with Regular Papanicolaou Smear Tests

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the world. It is a type of cancer that begins in the cervix (the entrance from the vagina to the uterus), just as cancer occurs in other parts of the body.

In most cases, cervical cancer grows slowly. It can take 10 to 15 years or more for abnormal cells to develop cervical cancer, says DR IDAI SMAIL-PRATT, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Novena’s Astra Female Specialist Tampines and the Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology. ..

Symptoms of cervical cancer include irregular vaginal bleeding, secretions, and pain. However, in most cases there are no symptoms. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary precautions to reduce risk, she says.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

According to the WHO, almost all cases of cervical cancer are associated with infection with a common virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus can cause normal cells in the cervix to become abnormal. Over the years, these abnormal cells can turn into cancer if not discovered and treated by a doctor.

You cannot see or feel HPV. Also, these cells change in the cervix. That’s why it’s important to prevent cervical changes that can lead to cervical cancer, says Dr. Ismail-Pratt.

What is HPV? How do you get it?

HPV, which is transmitted through sexual contact, is a common infection and often cures without treatment. In fact, it’s so prevalent that most of us get infected with HPVinfection at some point in our lives, but we may not know it.

There are many strains of HPV, which can be classified into “low risk” and “high risk”. Low-risk types can cause genital warts, but they do not form cancer. However, high-risk types can infect the cervix and cause precancerous changes that can lead to cancer. Currently, there are 14 high-risk types associated with cervical cancer. An HPV test can tell you if you are infected with one of the high-risk types.

HPV infections usually show no symptoms, and it’s very likely that someone has had the infection for years and doesn’t know about it, says Dr. Ismail-Pratt. Also, The partner may have been infected many years ago and was unaware of it.

How to prevent cervical cancer

So how can you prevent cervical cancer? It is important to go to regular cervical cancer screening or Papanicolaou stain test.

What is a Papanicolaou stain test?

The Papanicolaou stain test is a method of detecting precancerous or cancerous lesions of the cervix.Doctors collect cell samples from the cervix to test for abnormalities.

All sexually active women over the age of 25 are recommended to undergo a Papanicolaou stain test once every three years.

Papanicolaou smear by gynecologist Cervical cancer screening

How about the HPV vaccine?

In addition to regular cervical cancer screening, Dr. Ismail-Pratt recommends that the HPV vaccine be considered as another preventive option.

There are three types of HPV vaccines: Cervarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil 9. It is advisable to consult a doctor or gynecologist as it is slightly different.

Other ways to reduce the risk of cervical cancer

There are other ways to reduce the risk, says Dr. Ismail-Pratt. These include:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle so you have a strong immune system
  • Limit the number of sexual partners
  • Use of condoms

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Cervical Cancer and HPV-Reduce Risk with Regular Papanicolaou Smear Tests

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