We often hear about Pap test, but many of us are not aware about the benefits of this test. Pap or the Pap smear test monitors changes that might occur in the cervix cells. The lower narrow portion of the uterus that connects to the vagina is known as the cervix. Pap test helps to determine the presence of abnormal cells or infections in the cervix region.
Benefits of Pap test
Regular Pap test is recommended to prevent cervical cancer. It helps to detect abnormal cells in the cervix, which might lead to cervix cancer in the future. Cervical cancer is one of the major causes of cancer deaths in women. If detected at an early stage, cervical cancer could be healed.
When to go for the Pap test
After their 21st birthday, women should have regular pap tests. Pap test is also recommended for women below 21, who are sexually active for at least 2 to 3 years. Women need Pap tests even after menopause. However, elderly women, above 65, could talk to their doctors about stopping the Pap tests.
Usually, elderly women could avoid taking the Pap tests, if in the last ten years the Pap tests have not shown any abnormal results. The frequency of the Pap tests depends on the age of the woman. Women below 30 should have at least one Pap test every year. Women above 30 should take Pap tests for three consecutive years, after which, if their doctor advices them, they can take Pap tests after a span of 2 to 3 years. Women who had total hysterectomy surgery might not require regular Pap tests. However, if total hysterectomy was conducted owing to cancer, routine Pap tests should continue. You will need routine Pap tests after hysterectomy, if only the uterus has been removed in the surgery, keeping the cervix intact.
However, irrespective of age, women suffering from illnesses that weaken their immunity should take Pap tests every year. Chemotherapy, prolonged steroid use and organ transplantation weaken the immunity of the body, increasing the risk of infections and cervical cancer. Regular Pap smear test is also recommended for HIV positive women.