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How Often Should Women Do Cervical Smear Test?

How Often Should Women Do Cervical Smear Test?

A 2014 report[1] from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 8 million women are not getting screened for cervical cancer. This is dangerous since getting screened for cervical cancer can save someone’s life. The American Cancer Society[2] had made an estimate that for the year 2016, “about 12,990 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and about 4,120 women will die from cervical cancer.” According to the same CDC report, most “cervical cancers could be prevented by screening.”

So how often and when should women get a cervical smear test?

Annual screening is often unnecessary. Every few years is enough.

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Here are the recommendations from the American Cancer Society:[3]

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  • Cervical cancer screening should start at age 21.
  • Every 3 years, women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test. It is not recommended to test for HPV unless there are abnormal findings from the Pap test.
  • A Pap test and HPV test should be done every 5 years for women between the 30 and 65. But a Pap test alone every 3 years can also be done.
  • If a woman that is over 65 had normal results from regular screenings, they should not be screened for cervical cancer. But they should continue to be screened if they have been diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer.
  • Women who have undergone a hysterectomy and do not have a history of pre-cancer or revival cancer, do not need to be screened.
  • Even if a woman has had HPV vaccinations, recommendations for screenings should still be followed.
  • High-risk women (those with HIV infection, organ transplant, or exposure to the drug DES) may need more frequent screenings.

The American Cancer Society does not recommend a Pap test every year because it generally takes much longer than a year, about 10 to 20 years for the development of cervical cancer. Also, too frequent screening could lead to unnecessary procedures. Also, Philip Castle of the American Society for Clinical Pathology stated[4] that, “If you test every year you find a lot of benign infections that would go away on their own… You end up overscreening, overmanaging and overtreating women who are not actually at risk of getting cervical cancer.”

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Risks of not getting tested

Not getting cervical smear tests done when you are supposed to can pose a serious risk. A cervical smear test is one of the two tests[5] that help prevent cervical cancer. It looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix so that they can be treated early. If not treated early, these cell changes will become cervical cancer. The other one is HPV testing which looks for the virus that causes the cell changes.

It’s a simple process

A pap or cervical smear test is pretty simple. It is not painful, but some women may feel uncomfortable. During the test, the nurse or doctor puts an instrument called a speculum while it is shut. Once put in, the doctor or nurse opens it and then a thin plastic stick with a small brush at the end to scrape some cells from the cervix. The cells are then sent to the laboratory for testing.[6]

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Reference

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Sarah Bonander

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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

Problems and heartaches in life are inevitable. However, there are some things to remember when you’re right in the thick of it that can help you get through it. When everything seems to be going wrong, practice telling yourself these things.

1. This Too Shall Pass

Sometimes life’s rough patches feel like they’re going to last forever. Whether you’re dealing with work-related issues, family problems, or stressful situations, very few problems last for a lifetime. So remind yourself, that things won’t be this bad forever.

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2. Some Things are Going Right

When things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognize what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good things and only focus on the bad things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something very small.

3. I Have Some Control

One of the most most important things to remember is that you have some control of the situation. Even if you aren’t in complete control of the situation, one thing you can always control is your attitude and reaction. Focus on managing what is within your control.

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4. I Can Ask for Help

Asking for help can be hard sometimes. However, it’s one of the best ways to deal with tough situations. Tell people what you need specifically if they offer to help. Don’t be afraid to call on friends and family and ask them for help, whether you need financial assistance, emotional support, or practical help.

5. Much of This Won’t Matter in a Few Years

Most of the problems we worry about today won’t actually matter five years from now. Remind yourself that whatever is going wrong now is only a small percentage of your actual life. Even if you’re dealing with a major problem, like a loved one’s illness, remember that a lot of good things are likely to happen in the course of a year or two as well.

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6. I Can Handle This

A lack of confidence in handling tough times can add to stress. One of the best things to remember is that you can handle tough situations. Even though you might feel angry, hurt, disappointed, or sad, it won’t kill you. You can get through it.

7. Something Good Will Come Out of This

No matter how bad a situation is, it’s almost certain that something good will come out of it. At the very least, it’s likely that you will learn a life lesson. Perhaps you learn not to repeat the same mistake in the future or maybe you move on from a bad situation and find something better. Look for the one good thing that can result when bad things happen.

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8. I Can Accept What’s Out of my Control

There are many things that aren’t within your control. You can’t change the past, another person’s behavior, or a loved one’s health issues. Don’t waste time trying to force others to change or trying to make things be different if it isn’t within your control. Investing time and energy into trying to things you can’t will cause you to feel helpless and exhausted. Acceptance is one of the best way to establish resilience.

9. I Have Overcome Past Difficulties

One of the things to remember when you’re facing difficulties, is that you’ve handled problems in the past. Don’t overlook past difficulties that you’ve dealt with successfully. Remind yourself of all the past problems you’ve overcome and you’ll gain confidence in dealing with the current issues.

10. I Need to Take Care of Myself

When everything seems to be going wrong, take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, get some exercise, eat healthy, and spend some time doing leisure activities. When you’re taking better care of yourself you’ll be better equipped to deal with your problems.

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Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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