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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 August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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