Women who skip a routine checkup may be missing a life-saving appointment. In recent decades, women have been much less likely to die from cervical cancer because more women are getting screened for the disease.
The familiar Pap test helps healthcare providers check a woman’s cervix for early cancer or changes that could turn into cancer. A new study found out just how valuable this screening can be.
Researchers included 1,230 women who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. In some of the women, the cancer was caught after a screening. In other women, the cancer was caught after the women started showing other symptoms.
Ninety-two percent of the women were cured if they found their cancer through screening. But only 66% of women were cured if a healthcare provider found the cancer because of its symptoms.
Screenings often gave women a better chance of a cure because they caught the cancer at an earlier stage, when it’s more easily treated.
The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings for women, no later than age 21. Some women may want to have a test for HPV, the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer, along with their Pap test.
The recommendations for how often women need cervical screenings change over the course of their lives. For a quick rundown on who should have this test and when, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at www.cancer.org.