Thursday, January 15, 2009
Good old pap test
…Like so many conditions, you don’t want cervical cancer. HA doesn’t do “months,” but if she did, she might mention that January is the one for cervical cancer.
…The Pap test, named after a Greek doctor, gets cells from the area to be examined for changes that show cancer.
…Every adult woman knows about this—cold steel stuff in ya, rummaging around, etc.
…Andrea Milbourne, MD, professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center at the Univ of Texas, says there are six things you need to know about this test.
…Number 1. If you start getting more sexually active (lucky in the parlance), you are at increased need of a test. Sex can bring Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is strongly associated with cervical cancer. Even condoms don’t keep all the HPV out.
…Number 2. The HPV vaccine is in addition to the pap test and not as a substitute for it. Young woman can look into getting the vaccine, but should not let it give them a false sense of security. It also does not protect against all forms of HPV.
…Number 3. You need to “prepare” for your pap test. Avoid douching or using medicines or anti-spermicidal foams for 48 hours. Do not have sex for 48 hours. If your period starts, reschedule.
…Number 4. A woman is never too old to get a pap test. Even if you are over 65, if you are sexually active, get the test each year.
…Number 5. Money should not prevent your getting a pap test. To get a free or low cost test, call 1-800-CANCER.
…Number 6. Before the pap test, cervical cancer was a leading cause of death in American women. Between 1975 and 1992, death from it dropped 74 percent, thanks to the test, although cervical cancer is till the second largest cause of female cancer deaths worldwide.
…Ask your doctor if you are getting the Thin Prep Pap Test—it is more likely to get a sample containing abnormal cells if indeed they are present.
…Yeah, going to the gynecologist sucks, but not going can suck worse.