The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical.
HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a very common virus, passed from one person to another during sex. Most people get it, but it usually goes away on its own. If HPV doesn’t go away, it can cause cancer.
Have your first Pap test when you’re 21. If your test results are normal, you can wait 3 years for your next Pap test. HPV tests aren’t recommended for screening women under 30.
When you turn 30, you have a choice:
The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (womb) that connects the uterus to the vagina (birth canal). A diagram of the female reproductive system shows the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, vagina, and vulva.
(Graphic: Kim Ducharme. Originally posted at theworld.org/cancer
Almost two decades ago, a doctor named Surendra S. Shastri was put in charge of preventative oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India. One of his biggest jobs: to figure out how to cut the toll from cervical cancer, which kills 200,000 women a year in the developing world but is rare in developed countries.
“We don’t have the kind of laboratories or the kind of trained manpower needed for having a Pap smear. The Pap smear has succeeded in the countries where it has because of good quality control and frequency of screening,” Shastri says. He needed something far cheaper. The idea that he and others hit upon was to steal a step from from the procedure that follows a suspicious Pap smear. Doctors pour acetic acid – basically a sterile vinegar solution – onto the cervix and look at it under a magnifier. Cancer and precancer cells have less of the gooey cytoplasm than healthy cervix, and the acetic acid makes them actually turn white after just a minute. The normal cells remain a healthy pink.
Shastri skipped the magnifier and the doctor, and decided to train the same health care workers who give immunizations and other basic preventative measures to apply an acetic acid solution in the field. In 1998, he obtained funding from the National Cancer Institute, one of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, to conduct a fifteen-year clinical trial comparing using the vinegar screen once every two years to not screening in 150,000 women. The results are being presented today here at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. The vinegar test reduced the rate of cervical cancer death from 16.2 women per 100,000 to 11.1 women per 100,000, a 31% reduction.
Cervical cancer takes its greatest toll in the countries whose economies and health systems are poorest.
Women in those places are less likely than those in rich countries to get regular Pap tests to detect the cancers when it can be treated effectively.
Of the 275,000 women who die of cervical cancer each year, more than 85 percent, or at least 234,000, are in low-income countries.
But a vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer could go a long way toward lowering the risk in those less developed countries. Problem is, the shots are pretty expensive.
In the U.S., vaccines against human papillomavirus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $100 or more per shot. Private buyers in the U.S. pay even more. Three doses are recommended.
Now, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, makers of the HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix, respectively, have agreed to lower the prices for their vaccines to less than $5 a shot.
Until now, the best price available to public sector buyers was $13, according to the , which brokered the deal.
(From Shots: Health News from NPR)
Lift your Skirt for a Pap Smear
The Singapore Cancer Society raises awareness for cervical cancer and invites Singapore women to free pap smear screenings in May 2013. Each year, 200 women are newly diagnosed with the preventable disease and 70 die from it.
Cervical Cancer Screening in Zambia. HIV positive women are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, so finding low cost, effective screening methods like the acetic acid (vinegar) swab are important. This blog has previously posted on a similar program in Botswana.
Cervical Cancer’s Toll in the Developing World
Cervical cancer, which is largely preventable and treatable, is the third most common cancer in women around the world. Around 275,000 women die each year from the disease and nearly 90% of these deaths occur in the developing world.
(From The American Cancer Society)
It’s Cervical Health Awareness Month, so here’s a handy infographic. Does your cervix need a check up in 2013? Make an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood health center: http://bit.ly/Vnj9L2.
(CNN) — Only innovation can reduce illness and poverty in Africa, according to a program that is funding creative approaches to healthcare in developing countries.
In countries such as Tanzania, where nearly 4,500 women die annually from the disease, the problem is exacerbated by an acute shortage of medical experts and a lack of quality screening services, especially in rural areas.
But now a group of Canadian and Tanzanian health innovators have joined forces to apply simple and safe mobile technologies to improve cervical cancer screening and thus potentially reduce mortality rates in the East African country.
The idea is to send teams of two trained non-physician healthcare workers in remote Tanzania to examine women living several hours away from health centers. The nurses, who will be equipped with cervical screening and treatment tools as well as standard smartphones, will take a photograph of the cervix with their phone and send it via SMS to a medical expert in a specialized clinic.
Trained doctors will then be able to review the image immediately and text the diagnosis back to the health worker, as well as give instructions about treatment.
(From CNN - Inside Africa)