Health Female Adda
1 year ago
Is pap smear the right screening test for cervical cancer?

January is cervical cancer awareness month. Cervical cancer can occur early in the productive period of a woman’s life. In addition to this, smoking, unprotected sex, having multiple children, prolonged use of birth control pills and suffering from HIV and HPV infections can put you at risk of developing cervical cancer. Every sexually active woman is advised to get screened for cervical cancer. PAP smear is most recommended test to diagnose HPV infection and is touted to be a cancer screening tool. However, is it really effective to detect cervical cancer? Well, here is what our expert Dr B.R Das, Advisor and Mentor – R&D and Molecular Pathology, SRL Diagnostics has to say.

Pap test for cervical cancer — Is it the right screening test?

A PAP smear test is the most commonly used screening test, however, PAP test is much more likely to miss precancerous cervical disease than HPV testing. Available data indicates HPV testing is more sensitive for detecting localized infection and marginally less sensitive to distant infection. Owing to these limitations, co-testing in women between 30 and 65 years is the preferred screening strategy recommended by most of the global medical associations. It is recommended to be performed every 5 years. Nevertheless, experts believe that screening benefit of co-testing is largely driven by HPV testing and not cytology. Also read about few things you must know about cervical cancer screening.

What is the right screening test for cervical cancer?

Stressing the importance of right screening strategy, Dr Das added “Getting checked for cervical cancer isn’t one size fit all, but most importantly if it is detected early the five-year survival rate goes up to 91%. Research indicates that approximately 80% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have never been screened or have not had regular Pap smears. The main choice moving forward is between reflex testing, co-testing or HPV testing alone. There is no cure for HPV. If detected early, problems associated with the virus (such as warts) can be treated. HPV screening aids in the screening of cervical cancer in the early stages and early detection is key to stop cervical cancer”. Here’s more on cervical cancer tests: Pap smear and other tests.

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