A Pap smear de­tects cells in your cervix that could be­come can­cer­ous. Think of it as a five-minute test which could save your life, lit­er­ally. So what hap­pens if you get an ab­nor­mal re­sult? Here’s what to ex­pect.

Herworld (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

De­code the med­i­cal jar­gon in your re­port.

Any test has two pos­si­ble out­comes: pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive. With Pap smears, you’re gun­ning for the lat­ter. A neg­a­tive re­sult means there’s noth­ing to worry about, whereas a pos­i­tive re­sult in­di­cates that your cervix has some ab­nor­mal cells, which could po­ten­tially de­velop into cer­vi­cal can­cer. You’ll need to catch this as early as pos­si­ble, which is why you shouldn’t skip your Pap smears. When ab­nor­mal cells first ap­pear, there are no symp­toms. But by the time the symp­toms – like ab­nor­mal dis­charge or bleed­ing – emerge, the cells could have be­come can­cer­ous.

Get screened once ev­ery three years, es­pe­cially if you’re above 25 or sex­u­ally ac­tive. That’s be­cause cer­vi­cal can­cer is usu­ally caused by the hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV), which is sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted. You can quit af­ter you turn 70, pro­vided you’ve had three con­sec­u­tive neg­a­tive screen­ing tests.

Dr Chia Yin Nin, gy­nae­co­log­i­cal on­col­o­gist, Gle­nea­gles Hos­pi­tal Sin­ga­pore

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