Pap Awareness Week urges all women to get regular pap tests
Pap Awareness Week is taking place in British Columbia from June 8 to June 13.
The B.C Cancer Agency is offering all women in the province the chance to have a pap test at designated walk in clinics and want to stress that it takes less than a minute, but can save your life. The Cancer Agency is partnering with clinics all across the province to give women the chance to just walk-in without an appointment and get the chance to have a quick test done. It will take place at 100 clinics across BC.
“A number of factors —from not having a family physician to challenges scheduling appointments (in rural) communities —could influence a woman’s decision to get regular Pap tests,” said Dr. Kathy Ceballos with the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Cervical Cancer Screening Program.
“Our goal is to make it easy for women to access cervical cancer screening by simply dropping in at participating local clinics.”
The B.C Cancer Agency said women in their 20s are the least likely to get regular pap tests, even though the test detects abnormalities in the cells that can become cervical cancer if left untreated.
What is a pap test?
A pap test checks for changes in the cell of your cervix (the lower part of your uterus). Any changes will let you know if you have an infection, abnormal cells or cervial cancer.
Why should women have regular pap tests?
A simple test can literally save your life. If abnormal cells are detected then cervial cancer can be cured. The test also finds infections and other abnormalities that may have no symptons but should not go untreated. The only way to stay healthy in your uterus is to get regular pap tests.
When should I get a pap test?
Generally women start to get pap tests if they are over 21, or under 21 and have been sexually active for 3 or more years. It is not advised to stop getting them until well into your 60s and even then it's always best to consult with your doctor.
Women who are under 30 and have had normal pap tests should get one test every year. If you have had an abnormal test result then talk to you doctor as they may want to make it more frequent than that, for example every six months.
When you reach 30 and have had 3 normal pap tests in a row then sometimes doctors suggest spacing the test out to once every two years, but that is for you and your doctor to decide.
It is recommended that you have a pap test every year if you have a weakened immune system, you are HIV positive, or your mother was exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) when she was pregnant.
How can you prevent getting cervical cancer?
Aside from getting regular pap tests, there are a few ways to decrease your chances of developing cervical cancer.
The HPV virus is the most common way of developing cervical cancer and is also one of the most easily sexually transmitted infections. A woman increases her chances of catching the HPV virus if she starts having sex before 18, has many sex partners who also have many sex partners, has or has had another sexually transmitted infection.
The most effective way of checking for the HPV virus is to have a pap test.
How can you prepare for a pap test?
It is so quick and takes under a minute, but there are a few things you can do to make sure the test is as effective as possible and you won't have to repeat it!
For two days before, do not use any tampons or creams or sprays and avoid having sex and the results will be easier to read.
When is the best time during my cycle to get a pap test?
It is best to get your test done about 10 to 20 days after the first day of your last period, and never during your period.
Jade Goody is probably the most famous person to have contracted cervical cancer and died from it, at the age of 27, although doctors stress that her case was very very rare.
She had a pap test which revealed abnormal cells, and was later tested for ovarian cancer and bowel cancer but was given the all-clear. It was at her fourth cancer scare that the test results confirmed that she had cervical cancer, but even after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the cancer had already spread to her liver, bowel and groin and her cancer was declared terminal.
Jade's story has helped to raise awareness of the disease.
Jade's story has raised awareness of cervical cancer which has led to hundreds of thousands of people contacting Cancer Research UK for information on the disease as the number of hits to our website, CancerHelp.org shows. Her legacy will be to help save lives.