Cervical Cancer ScreeningCervical cancer Screening is an important measure that can reduce the mortality risk drastically. The chances of development into later stages of cancer are reduced significantly if abnormal cells are detected by a screening procedure.
Evidence suggests that screening makes sence in women above 25 years of age. Women obove the age of 65 with three negative screening results are usually taken out of screening programs.
An important fact is that women who have been vaccinated against HPV still are strongly adviced to keep participating in screening programs and have their Pap smears done as the new HPV vaccines protect only against 70% of HPV strains!
Steps in cervical cancer Screening:
The first step in cervical cancer screening is using a speculum and taking a sample of cells from the cervix. This cell sample is then examined for any abnormalities. Screening has reduced the cervical cancer incidence by as much as 75%.
A small sample of cell is smeared onto a slide which is then examined in a laboratory.
Results of a Pap smear are classified as follows:
· Negative or within normal limits (normal)
· Atypical Squamous cells of Undetermined Significance (ASCUS)
· Low-grade intraepithelial lesions (abnormal)
· High-grade intraepithelial lesions (abnormal)
· Carcinoma (cancer)
An abnormal Pap test does not mean cancer, it just may mean that further tests will be necessary to tell what exactly is wrong. Changes may mean a simple infection or sometimes can mean a precancerous stage.
Note: The Pap smear is the most effective single screening method in cancer medicine!
Liquid based cytology:
A more comprehensive method involves taking a sample using a special device. The neck of this device which holds the cell sample is not brushed against a slide but washed in a preservative liquid. This is then sent to laboratory where the liquid is shaken and all impurities like pus etc are removed. A random sample of cells is then examined for abnormalities.
This method is conducted only if the earlier tests show presence of abnormal cells. The doctor uses a special microscope to see the cervix. The doctor applies a special liquid to the cervix so that normal cells appear pink while abnormal ones appear white. Now a cervical biopsy or a punch biopsy can be conducted easily.
Hybrid Capture II Test:
The Pap smear test alone does not tell if the cells will progress to cancer or not. The Hybrid Capture II HPV test tells if treatment is essential for a women or not. It is a DNA based test that provides information about 13 types of HPV virus that might be the agent of infection of cervical cells. If the Pap smear and this test both show abnormal results, doctors can conclude the presence of precancerous cells.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP):
This process competes with Conization for popularity. Some physicians say that this test will replace the other one. The test involves the use of an electrode put inside the cervix to remove abnormal cells from the cervix and endo-cervical canal. A high frequency electric current is running through the wire. This technique can also be used as a treatment method.
Above tests help pin point the condition of cells and thus, if necessary, appropriate treatment can be started. There is however some risk associated with screening methods.
This page was last updated:
April 14, 2007It is not the intention of Cervicalcancer.org to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and Cervicalcancer.org urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.