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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

More by this author

Sarah Bonander

Writer, Human Resources Professional

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Last Updated on February 13, 2019

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

Think being happy is something that happens as a result of luck, circumstance, having money, etc.? Think again.

Happiness is a mindset. And if you’re looking to improve your ability to find happiness, then check out these 10 things happy people do differently.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. -Dalai Lama

1. Happy people find balance in their lives.

Folks who are happy have this in common: they’re content with what they have, and don’t waste a whole lot of time worrying and stressing over things they don’t. Unhappy people do the opposite: they spend too much time thinking about what they don’t have. Happy people lead balanced lives. This means they make time for all the things that are important to them, whether it’s family, friends, career, health, religion, etc.

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2. Happy people abide by the golden rule.

You know that saying you heard when you were a kid, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Well, happy people truly embody this principle. They treat others with respect. They’re sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. They’re compassionate. And they get treated this way (most of the time) in return.

3. Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff.

One of the biggest things happy people do differently compared to unhappy people is they let stuff go. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Happy people realize this, are able to take things in stride, and move on. Unhappy people tend to dwell on minor inconveniences and issues, which can perpetuate feelings of sadness, guilt, resentment, greed, and anger.

4. Happy people take responsibility for their actions.

Happy people aren’t perfect, and they’re well aware of that. When they screw up, they admit it. They recognize their faults and work to improve on them. Unhappy people tend to blame others and always find an excuse why things aren’t going their way. Happy people, on the other hand, live by the mantra:

“There are two types of people in the world: those that do and those that make excuses why they don’t.”

5. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people.

happiness surrounding

    One defining characteristic of happy people is they tend to hang out with other happy people. Misery loves company, and unhappy people gravitate toward others who share their negative sentiments. If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members. Chances are, you’ll find that their positive attitude rubs off on you.

    6. Happy people are honest with themselves and others.

    People who are happy often exhibit the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. They would rather give you candid feedback, even when the truth hurts, and they expect the same in return. Happy people respect people who give them an honest opinion.

    7. Happy people show signs of happiness.

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    smile

      This one may sound obvious but it’s a key differentiator between happy and unhappy people. Think about your happiest friends. Chances are, the mental image you form is of them smiling, laughing, and appearing genuinely happy. On the flip side, those who aren’t happy tend to look the part. Their posture may be slouched and you may perceive a lack of confidence.

      8. Happy people are passionate.

      Another thing happy people have in common is their ability to find their passions in life and pursue those passions to the fullest. Happy people have found what they’re looking for, and they spend their time doing what they love.

      9. Happy people see challenges as opportunities.

      Folks who are happy accept challenges and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. They turn negatives into positives and make the best out of seemingly bad situations. They don’t dwell on things that are out of their control; rather, they seek solutions and creative ways of overcoming obstacles.

      10. Happy people live in the present.

      While unhappy people tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future, happy people live in the moment. They are grateful for “the now” and focus their efforts on living life to the fullest in the present. Their philosophy is:

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      There’s a reason it’s called “the present.” Because life is a gift.

      So if you’d like to bring a little more happiness into your life, think about the 10 principles above and how you can use them to make yourself better.

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