Cervical Cancer Screening: Importance and Methods

Cervical cancer screening is a vital aspect of women’s healthcare aimed at detecting precancerous changes or early-stage cervical cancer. Early detection greatly increases the chances of successful treatment. The primary screening method used is the Pap test (Pap smear), although HPV (human papillomavirus) testing is also becoming increasingly common. Here’s what you need to know:

Pap Smear:

  1. Purpose:
    • The Pap smear aims to detect abnormal cells in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.
  2. Procedure:
    • During a Pap smear, a healthcare provider collects cells from the cervix using a small brush or spatula.
    • The cells are then sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope.
  3. Frequency:
    • In general, women aged 21 to 29 should have a Pap smear every three years if results are normal.
    • For women aged 30 to 65, Pap smears can be done every three years, or combined with HPV testing every five years.

HPV Testing:

  1. Purpose:
    • HPV testing detects the presence of high-risk strains of the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer.
  2. Procedure:
    • Like the Pap smear, HPV testing involves collecting cells from the cervix during a pelvic exam.
    • The sample is then tested in a laboratory for the presence of HPV DNA.
  3. Frequency:
    • HPV testing is often done in conjunction with Pap smears for women aged 30 and older.
    • If both Pap smear and HPV test results are normal, screening intervals may be extended to every five years.

Additional Considerations:

  • Vaccination: HPV vaccines are available to protect against the most common high-risk strains of HPV. Vaccination is recommended for girls and boys aged 11 to 12, but can be administered as early as age 9 and up to age 26 for females and age 21 for males.
  • Follow-up: If abnormal cells are detected during screening, further testing or procedures may be recommended to evaluate the extent of the abnormalities and determine appropriate treatment.
Dr. Anusha K. S.

Gynaecology Expert

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Dr. Anusha K. S.

Gynaecology Expert