Pap smear: who should do and what diseases the test finds
The British organization Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust , focused on cervical cancer prevention, has launched a campaign on social networks to alert women about the importance of the exam of Papanicola. The #SmearForSmear campaign consists of posting photos using blurred red lipstick, making a joke with the name of the test in English: Pap smear. The word "smear" can mean so much smear - which is how material from the cervix is collected in the pap smear - as a blur. Hence, the lipstick is blurred.
The Pap smear is an exam that should be at the top of the list of priorities for all sexually active women. Increasingly, there are studies that prove the importance of it. One of these studies, released by the journal Science Translational Medicine , points out that the test could detect even ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, as well as cervical cancer and other diseases. Consultation - Getty Images
Also called Cytology or Oncology Colpocytology, the examination is powerful and at the same time simple - it consists of collecting material from the cervix with a "scraping spoon". According to a study published in the online edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the survival rate of women with cervical cancer detected by the examination reaches 92%, while those diagnosed only for symptoms show a survival rate of 66%. To get the most common questions about how the Pap smear works, check out the answers from gynecologists below.
1. The Pap test helps to detect which diseases?
In addition to cervical cancer and its lesions, the test helps diagnose vaginal infections such as Gardnerella vaginalis, trichomoniasis, and candidiasis. "Since the collection of the exam involves a genital examination, it is also possible to detect sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chondro- matosis, chlamydia and cancer," says gynecologist Rodrigo Hurtado of the clinic Origen de Contagem (MG). At what age does the woman need to take the test?
According to the Brazilian Guidelines for the Screening of Cervical Cancer, launched by the Inca in 2011, women aged 25 to 64 years and have had sexual activity. However the gynecologist claims that there is not a certain age. As soon as you start your sex life, the woman should already start performing the cytology. "The HPV virus can only be transmitted to the cervix through sexual intercourse and this is the main cause of cervical cancer," he explains. What is the best time to do it?
According to Rodrigo, the only period that makes it impossible to perform the exam is the days when the woman is menstruating. Before marking the exam, therefore, one must check the menstrual calendar and calculate when the next menstruation will be.
4. How much time does it have to be done?
Woman on exam day - Getty Images
"The ideal is to do it once a year," says the gynecologist. In high-risk cases, such as when a woman has HPV, her doctor may recommend a more frequent examination, every six months for example.
5. Is there any risk to women?
Rodrigo Hurtado guarantees that there is no risk. "On the contrary, the examination allows the early diagnosis with great chances of treatment and cure," the doctor claims.
6. Does the Pap test detect HPV?
In fact, this test is not specific for detecting HPV. "However, the test can detect the presence of abnormalities in the cells of the cervix or the vagina that are caused by HPV," explains gynecologist Achilles Cruz, of São Paulo, a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics at the Hospital das Clínicas of FMUSP. >If this happens, your doctor will give you additional tests, such as Colposcopy and Hybrid Capture. The first exam evaluates the lining tissue of the cervix by enlarging the image and applying reagents. "In the presence of changes, tissue biopsy will be done to identify HPV infection," Achilles explains. Hybrid Capture is an advanced technology exam that can detect if there are one or more types of the HPV virus that can cause cervical cancer.
7. Can the Pap Smear fail? "Studies show that about 50% of infected people may have failed to detect the HPV virus through the Pap smear," says Achilles Cruz. Therefore, it is important to perform complementary tests depending on the conditions of the woman - the gynecologist will be careful to evaluate which cases are necessary.
8. Can a woman have sex the day before the exam?
No. In order to be more effective in the result, doctors recommend the following precautions to be taken 48 hours prior to the test:
Do not use a vaginal cream and / or ovule
- Do not use a shower in the area and do not do internal washing
- Do not perform gynecological examination with touch, transvaginal ultrasound and / or magnetic resonance imaging of the pelvis
- Do not have intercourse with or without the use of condoms
9. Can virgin women also take the exam?
- Yes, virgin women can also perform the Pap smear, but these are special situations indicated by the doctor. "The collection of the material in this case is done through the use of speculum for virgin women with the help of a cotton swab," explains the gynecologist Achilles, who also ensures that there is no harm to the patient, nor risk of the hymen rupture.
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