Pap tests (or Pap smears) are well accepted tests that check for changes in the cells of the cervix (the lowest part of the uterus or womb) and screen for precancerous and cancerous lesions.
Pap tests are able to detect problems early and treatment may prevent cancer. Data shows that Pap screening has lowered the cervical cancer rate in the United States by more than 50% over the last 30 years.
This test is such a familiar part of our healthcare routine that many women might be surprised to learn five important things about the Pap test:
One of the most common cancers in women, cervical cancer begins in the tissues of the cervix – an area that connects the vagina to the uterus in women. The good news is that cervical cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer that can be easily detected in its pre-cancerous stages with regular PAP tests and other screening tests.
Are you at risk?
What we know is that women with certain risk factors may be more likely than others to develop cervical cancer. Research has shown that cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection – however not all women with HPV get cervical cancer.
We also know that women that smoke and have HPV are nearly twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer. Other risk factors include a family history of cervical cancer (mother or sister), a diet low in fruits and vegetables, and being overweight.
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