1 in 150 Canadian women will develop cervical cancer in her lifetime. 1 in 423 will die from it. That means about 1% of all female deaths from cancer are due specifically to cervical cancer.
That may seem insignificant in the face of other statistics and other diseases, but cervical cancer is relatively easy to detect in early stages. And early detection has a dramatic effect on the survival rate of women with cervical cancer – over 90%.
That is why the Nardella Clinic now offers physical exams, including gynecological exams for women.
A gynecological exam can include a pap smear (Papanicolaou test). This test involves taking a small sample of cells from the cervix. The laboratory then evaluates the cells, checking for abnormalities, known as cervical dysplasia. Most cases of cervical dysplasia resolve and do not become cancerous, but it may be a sign for increased vigilance.
Testing for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and other sexually transmitted infections is also important as part of a complete gynecological exam. There are dozens of strains of HPV, a handful of which are the main culprits in causing cervical cancer. As with cervical dysplasia, most cases of HPV infection clear without any intervention. There are the instances that never clear, and instead form a cancerous lesion. Forewarned is forearmed. Knowing about the existence of an HPV infection – especially which strains – can prompt more sensitive tests and early detection.
Early detection of abnormal cells or HPV allows for early and effective treatment. It is therefore best to perform an HPV test in conjunction with a Pap smear to maximize early detection of cervical cancer.
Current Alberta guidelines suggest that every woman take these tests either
- Every three years after the age of 21, or
- Three years after becoming sexually active.
Yearly testing, however, enables more optimal screening.
The key information regarding gynecological cancer screening is this: all sexually active women should include these important diagnostics as a part of their yearly physical. The earlier you are aware of a problem, the easier and more effective treatment is.
There is no reason to delay. Contact us to arrange a consultation.