Friday, January 27, 2017

Cervical Cancer and Pap smear

So, January being cervical cancer awareness month,I thought of getting repetitive  and talk about Pap smears and vaccines once again.

Cervical cancer - Cervical cancer is the cancer of mouth of the womb and is the commonest cancer in Indian women.Unlike other cancers cervical cancer doesn't surprise you by it's sudden occurrence.It goes through various stages of cell abnormality before getting pre cancerous or even cancerous.

High Risk Factors-Promiscus behaviour and multiple sexual partners,usage of Oral contraceptive pills,smoking,multiple child birth to mention a few.It is caused by a virus called Human papilloma virus,which is mostly transferred during sexual encounter.

Screening- Pap smear is a preventive test which doesn't  take more than 5-7minutes to perform.A brush is used to gently take the cells from the cervix.At worst this test can be called mildly uncomfortable but not painful.A laboratory examination screens out any abnormal cells.

Pap smear should be done every 1 to 3 years till the age of 64years.

What if Pap smear is abnormal-Incase of an abnormal report,another test colposcopy is done where the cervix is visualised under a magnifying lens after applying a vinegar like solution or iodine or both and if any area looks suspicious,small piece s taken and sent for pathological confirmation.Again,this procedure can be done without Anaesthesia.

What if Biopsy also comes abnormal.If it is till precancerous stage,a procedure called LETTZ is performed where the abnormal area of cervix is 'shaved of' using electric current.A cancer obviously would need removing major chunk of cervix if family isn't complete or a hysterectomy if the family is complete.

HPV vaccine- It covers only 4 out of 100 strains of HPV and thus the maximal protection offered is 72 % and not 100 percent.Maximal benefit derived is before the girl became sexually active.Recommended age group is 9 years to 26 years.After that one would get some protection but difficult to say how much protection.

So a few minutes spared every year can save many lives.If you haven't had a screening so far,it is never too late to begin something as beneficial as this.