This is the most common gynaecological malignancy, and the second most prevalent cause of deaths among female cancer patients in Malaysia. With the number of cases diagnosed increasing over the years, the importance of early detection and treatment is becoming more apparent.
What is the cervix?
The cervix is the neck of the womb, which is where a foetus develops during pregnancy. The cervix leads to a passage called the vagina and to the exterior of the body.
How does cancer of the cervix occur?
When cancer develops in the cervix, cells start to behave abnormally. They start multiplying very quickly, building up into a lump or tumour. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic system. This cancer can take years to develop. However, before it develops, early changes take place in the cells on the surface of the cervix. This is called the pre-cancerous stage. At this point, the abnormal cells can easily be detected through Pap Smear test.
Symptoms to look out for
Several physical symptoms may indicate the development of this cancer. If you experience any of these, your doctor should be consulted immediately:
*Watery, foul smelling vaginal discharge.
*Vaginal bleeding between periods or after sex.
*Any vaginal bleeding after menopause.
Risk factors for cancer for the cervix
*Sexual habits – beginning sexual intercourse at a young age or having multiple partners.
*Infectious agent – the Human Papilloma Virus has been scientifically linked to cancer of the cervix.
*Poor personal hygiene.
*Increasing age – the highest frequency of this cancer has been detected in women aged 40 to 49.
A Pap Smear test is your protection against cervical cancer
A sexually active woman may develop cancer of the cervix and it is vital to detect and treat the cancer early. A Pap Smear test is an effective way to test for cancerous or potentially cancerous cells. It is a simple, painless test that can detect cancer of the cervix at an early stage when simple treatment can result in a total cure.
How is a Pap Smear test done?
A Pap Smear test is usually quite painless. A qualified doctor or nurse will do an internal examination by gently taking cells from the surface of the cervix speculum using a spatula to open. The cells are then placed on a glass slide, which will then be sent to a laboratory for a microscopic examination.
Why is a Pap Smear Test so important?
A Pap Smear test can detect abnormal cells, which reflect changes in the cervix before the cancer sets in. If treated early, the cancer will not develop further. An internal medical examination will also be done simultaneously as a Pap Smear test to help detect other abnormal conditions or infections of the reproductive tract.
Who needs a Pap Smear test?
All women aged 20 and above – particularly those who are sexually active – will need a Pap Smear test. It should be done as a precautionary measure once a year. You need not necessarily have any symptoms of cancer to have this test done.
When should a test be done?
A test is best done in the middle of the menstrual cycle, seven or 10 days after the start of menstruation. What will the follow-up action be? If any abnormalities are found, you will be treated or referred for further investigation and treatment.
Where are Pap Smear tests available?
You can have a Pap Smear test done at:
*Government health centres
*Family planning clinics
Pukul 3 tadi i ada appointment utk Pap Smear Test……….hu hu hu dug dag dug dag ok………yolah…….I nie bab2 check camtu………agak malu2 kucing sikit……he he he…..tp ku berserah ler di godeh oleh nurse 2 org tadi………..rasanyer……..mmmmm………korang gi ler buat sendiri erk……….tahu ler korang rasanyer camner………..dlm sebulan result akan keluar……..hope xde apa2 yg abnormal…………wish me luck !………he he he