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Another option In cervical cancer screenings

Cervical cancer remains one of the most common forms of cancer affecting women. Globally, cervical cancer is one of the second or third most common forms of cancer, say reports. More than 400,000 new cases are reported each year (mostly in disadvantaged groups who do not receive routine medical care), but preventative screening methods have been helping to reduce cervical cancer numbers among the masses.

Many women are familiar with the Papanicolaou smear, or Pap test as it has been come to be commonly known. The test is done easily as part of a routine wellness visit for women and checks for the presence of abnormal cervical lesions that could propagate into cervical cancer. Since the adoption of routine Pap tests in the late 1940s, the cases of cervical cancer have dropped considerably. But Pap tests are not 100-percent accurate.

Pap tests are obtained by swabbing the cervix and collecting cells for testing. Sometimes other tissue can get in the way of cervical cells and interfere with the results. Women often receive false readings, whether positive or negative for cervical cancer. Nationwide, physicians perform about 55 million Pap tests every year. Nearly half of the tests may come back negative even when a biopsy shows abnormal lesions.

But a relatively new addition to cervical cancer screening methods is helping to narrow down the inconsistencies with Pap tests. The test blends the familiar Pap smear with observation with a “speculite.” This is essentially a disposable chemiluminescent light — a blacklight of sorts — that attaches to the speculum the doctor uses to view the cervix. The special light turns abnormal cells white and allows the doctor to see if there are any abnormalities present. The test is known as PapSureĆ, although there may be other companies that have since produced a similar type of test, which go by different names. The test adds a mere five additional minutes onto the routine pelvic examination.

In an Italian study of more than 3,000 women with no history of cervical abnormalities, the sensitivity for detecting cervical abnormalities via Pap smear was 92 percent with PapSure versus 41 percent without it. The test has FDA approval and is offered at many gynecological offices worldwide.

Routine testing remains the best way to prevent or catch cervical cancer early on. This cancer tends to become more difficult to treat as the disease advances, making early diagnosis essential to a woman’s well being. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in adding PapSure to your checkup.

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