What is a cervical smear?
A cervical screening test is a test to see if there are any abnormal cells in the cervix (the ‘neck of the womb’) which may be cancerous, or which may develop into cancer later if left untreated.
It is extremely important for you to have regular cervical smear tests because the symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious. In fact, you may not experience any symptoms at all until the cancer has reached an advanced stage. However, some women do experience some symptoms such as abnormal bleeding after sexual intercourse, or between periods. Discomfort during sex can also be a symptom of cervical cancer, as well as the presence of an unusually smelling vaginal discharge.
Other symptoms may include:
The vast majority of women (99% of cases, in fact) who develop cervical cancer do so through contracting a particular virus called the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is commonly passed on through sexual intercourse. The virus can lay dormant for many years, however, before cancerous cells develop. No one knows why.
An increased risk of developing cervical cancer can occur as a result of smoking, having a weakened immune system, at what age you conceive your first child, and through using a contraceptive pill for more than ten years.
If you are suffering from the aforementioned symptoms (or have been notified of an abnormal cervical cancer screening result), make an appointment to see your GP.
He or she will discuss your symptoms with you and then arrange for you to have a colposcopy – a close examination of your cervix by a specially trained doctor or nurse using a colposcope (a lighted magnifying instrument).
Other diagnostic tests can include:
A biopsy – a small tissue sample from your cervix is removed and sent to a laboratory for testing
An MRI Scan (magnetic resonance imaging scan) or ultrasound scan – to see if the cancer has spread
Please note: being informed that you have an abnormal smear test result does not necessarily mean that you have cervical cancer. It means that changes have been found in the cells of your cervix. These cells may not be cancerous. However, the changed cells could develop into cancer unless treated early. That is why it is crucial to always attend your screening appointments.
Effect on your life
Being diagnosed with cervical cancer can be extremely traumatic. However, through consultations you will be encouraged to ask any questions, even if you fear they may seem trivial to someone else. Cervical cancer nurse specialists are trained and attuned to responding to your questions. They will also understand your needs.
Cancer will obviously have an enormous impact on your life. But the good news is that, for many women, there is life after cervical cancer.
Treatments for cervical cancer include:
Surgery – normally an operation to remove cancerous growths, tissues or organs
Chemotherapy – a general term for treatments that use chemical agents/drugs that kill cancer cells
Radiotherapy – high-energy radiation treatment
Depending upon the stage of the cancer, your treatment may involve a combination of these.
How Chemist Online can help
Folic acid is a member of the B group of vitamins and is utilised by the body in the production of nucleic acids and DNA. It helps in the utilisation of sugar, amino acids and the division of body cells.
Abnormal PAP smears of women who are taking birth control pills have been shown to improve through an increased daily intake of folic acid. At Chemist Online, we have available to buy through this website Healthaid Folic Acid 400ug.
Before purchasing, please check with your GP if taking 10mg of folic acid per day can help reverse severe dysplasia in your case.
Advice & Support
If your cervical smear results highlighted abnormalities, and you are concerned about the possibility that you may have cancer, then the following organisations offer advice and support:
Cancer Research UK
Tel. 020 7121 6699, 020 7242 0200
Tel. Helpline 0808 800 1234 (freephone)
Tel. 020 7739 2280 (standard rate)
This information and advice is not intended to replace the advice of your GP or chemist. Chemist Online is also not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based upon the content of the Chemist Online website. Chemist Online is also not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites.
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