Do you know about the two things for the prevention of cervical cancer? These are – getting human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and conducting the right test on time. The rates for cervical cancer seem to have dropped down dramatically in the UK during the last few decades. This is mainly due to increased screening through HPV and Pap testing. These tests can help to detect warning signs of cancer before they even develop. Screening can help to save lives though many people do not know when they need to get tested. This is because cancer screening recommendations have changed a lot in the recent years.
Different screening tests to identify cervical cancer
There are two tests conducted to screen for cancer in your cervix. This is narrow opening to the uterus at the top of vagina.
- The Pap test: This can help to identify unusual cells at an early stage before they turn into cancer.
- The HPV test: This may detect the presence of virus, being the main cause of this type of cancer.
Both Pap and HPV co-tests combine together for Pap and HPV testing.
The screening with Pap tests has played an important role in the detection and prevention of cervical cancer for many decades. But Pap tests should be repeated often which cause false positives. This can be lead to follow-up tests and stress for people whose Pap tests identify abnormal cells causing cancer.
As per studies, HPV tests may help to detect precursors to cervical cancer in a more accurate way when compared to Pap tests. They do not need to be repeated often to detect cancer screening.
When do you need to get screened for cervical cancer?
If you are within the age group of 25 – 65 years, then you need to conduct a primary HPV test once in 5 years. When a primary test is not available, perform an HPV/Pap co-test in every 5 years or a Pap test alone in every 3 years. If you are 65 years or above, then there is no need to conduct Pap or HPV tests if you have had normal screening results in the past 10 years. Also, you find no past record of moderate or extreme unusual cells during the past 25 years.
You will come across different organizations offering screening recommendations for cervical cancer. The screening for women starts from 21 years till 29 with a Pap smear test only in every 3 years. Women within 30 to 65 years will have to conduct a primary HPV screening test in every 5 years, a Pap test and HPV test together in every 5 years or a Pap test alone in every 3 years. It is important to start a conversation with your doctor about cervical cancer screening you need to follow.
What should you do if you have had HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is very effective in the prevention of more than 90% of the cancers which has been linked to HPV. Yet it is possible to get HPV and develop this type of cancer. If you have had HPV vaccine, then you need to go through screening guidelines for your age group.
When do you need to conduct cervical cancer testing often?
Some women suffer from health concerns that can be the reason for greater risk of getting cervical cancer. You may have to get screened often and then follow more closely by your doctor in the case you:
- Have a past record of abnormal Pap or cervical cancer tests
- Are infected with HIV
- Had been exposed to diethylstilbestrol before birth
- Have weak immune system
Should you get screened for cervical cancer if you have had a hysterectomy?
If you have had a hysterectomy, then you still need vaginal or cervical cancer screening. It actually depends on various factors and you will more likely require screening if:
- The cervix had not been removed as part of your surgery
- You had hysterectomy to remove cancerous or unusual cells
- You have higher-risk HPV infection
Even if the cervix had been removed, there might be some cervical cells at the top of your vagina. The doctor may help to decide when you should stop screening.
Cervical cancer screening can help in the detection of cancer at an early stage when it will be easy to treat. Detecting and treating precancerous cell changes may prevent cervical cancer from developing further. So, if you’re due for a cervical cancer screening, take action now. Book an appointment with a private GP in London for essential tests and prioritize your health.