Pap Test Important in Detecting Cervical Cancer

A routine Pap test is an important part of early detection for cervical cancer.

The relatively painless exam is the first line of defense for cervical cancer.

A Pap test and pelvic exam can help detect abnormalities that may lead to invasive cancer. During a Pap test, cells from the cervix are taken for laboratory examination. The test may detect infections, inflammation or pre-cancerous cells.

Because cervical cancer usually has no symptoms, early detection is important to successful treatment. The most common symptoms of cervical cancer are abnormal bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse (and these symptoms could be related to other health problems).

Women who are sexually active or who are 18 or older should have Pap test and pelvic exams regularly.

The best time for a woman to have a Pap test is 10 to 20 days after the first day of her last menstrual period. For two days before the test, avoid douching, using vaginal medicines and spermicidal foams, creams or jellies, except as directed by a physician. These products could hide abnormal cells.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Talk with your physician about cervical cancer and find out how often you should have a Pap test.