Presentation - Cervical Screening

Cervical Screening:
Do I Really Need a Pap Test
April 2010
Learning Objectives
What is a Pap test?
Who should have a
Pap test?
How often should women
have Pap tests?
How do I get ready?
What happens after?
Abnormal results
What is a Pap test?
A test that checks for changes in the cells of
the cervix
It is done in your healthcare provider’s office
and only takes a few minutes
Note: the Pap test does not check for sexually
transmitted infections such as Chlamydia or
Female Reproductive System
What is a Pap test?
Pap tests
After cells are collected from the cervix
they are sent to the lab to be checked
under a microscope
If any cell changes are found, they should
be followed-up closely
If needed cell changes can be treated so
that cancer does not develop
Should I have a Pap test?
If you have ever been sexually active, you
should have Pap tests regularly starting at
age 21 (or 3 years after becoming sexually
active, whichever is later)
Women should have regular Pap tests until at
least 70 years old
If you have had a hysterectomy, talk to your
healthcare provider
Should I still have a Pap test if…
How often should I have a Pap test?
Unless your healthcare provider tells you
Have a Pap test once a year for 3 years. If the
results of all 3 tests are normal, you can begin
having Pap tests once every 3 years
For most women 70 years and older, Pap tests
can stop if your last 3 Pap tests, done within the
past 10 years, were normal
Between Pap tests
See your healthcare provider
if you have any of the
following symptoms:
Bleeding between periods
Bleeding after sexual
Where can I go for a Pap test?
Make an appointment with your healthcare
If you need a family doctor or want to go to a
women’s health clinic:
Call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK (5465)
How do I get ready for a Pap test?
Try to make the appointment for a day when
you will not have your period
Don’t douche or use birth control creams or
jellies 24 hours before the test
Don’t have sexual intercourse 24 hours
before the test
How do I get ready for a Pap test?
Write down any questions
you may want to ask
Be prepared to talk about
your medical history
Think of any unusual signs
you may have
Know when your last period
Are there any risks to Pap tests?
A Pap test can miss abnormal cell changes.
So it’s important to have Pap tests regularly
Having abnormal results can be very
Pap tests can find changes that might go
away on their own. Following-up on these
changes may mean extra tests are needed
What do I do after the test?
Ask your healthcare
provider how you will
get your Pap test result
For most women the
result will be normal,
but an abnormal result
is common
Did you know?
Abnormal results are very
About 1 in 18 Pap tests in
Alberta is abnormal
An abnormal result does
not mean you have
What does an abnormal result mean?
An abnormal result means that cells taken
from your cervix look different from normal
cells under a microscope
All abnormal results should be followed-up
closely as some women will need treatment
Cell Changes
Normal Cells
Mild cell changes
(low-grade changes)
Moderate/severe changes
(high-grade changes)
Cancer cells
What causes an abnormal result?
There are different causes of an abnormal
Bacteria or yeast infections can cause cell
changes that look abnormal. These changes can
be treated and do not lead to cervical cancer
Most changes are caused by human
papillomavirus (HPV)
Most women who have an abnormal result
DO NOT develop cervical cancer
What happens after an abnormal result?
This depends on what type of
abnormal test you have:
Low-grade (minor) changes
Repeat Pap test in 6 to 12 months
High-grade (moderate/severe)
Referral for colposcopy
The cervix is looked at closely
with a powerful magnifying tool
Very similar to a Pap test
The colposcope does not cause
any discomfort because it stays
outside the vagina
A tiny sample of tissue may be
taken from the cervix (biopsy)
After colposcopy
If low-grade abnormalities are found you will
need to be followed-up closely:
Repeat Pap test in several months, OR
Another colposcopy procedure
If high-grade abnormalities are found
treatment may be recommended. Most often
these abnormalities can be treated
successfully so cancer does not develop
If needed, possible treatments may include
Laser Surgery: a laser beam destroys
abnormal cells
LEEP: a wire loop that removes a piece of
tissue using an electric current
Cone Biopsy: a cone shaped wedge of
tissue is removed
What happens after abnormal cells are removed?
Women who have had low-grade
abnormalities need to have Pap tests
every year for 3 years. If all the
results are normal they can begin
having Pap tests every 3 years
Women who have had high-grade
abnormalities should keep having a
Pap test every year for the rest of
their lives
Cervical cancer can be prevented
The greatest risk for cervical cancer is not
having a Pap test
Abnormal Pap tests results are very common
If you have an abnormal result see your healthcare
provider so you can be followed closely
Following-up abnormal Pap test results can almost
always prevent cervical cancer from developing
Go for regular Pap tests!
Women, as the givers of life have a
responsibility to the Creator, themselves,
their family and the community to maintain
their physical, spiritual, emotional
and mental well-being
For more information contact:
Cancer Screening Programs
Phone 1-866-727-3926
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