Symptoms of cervical cancer
During the early stages of cervical cancer, there are generally no symptoms at all. Should symptoms appear, they may include:
- Lower back pain
- Excessive tiredness
- Leg pain or swelling of the legs
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Pain during intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (between periods, after sex or after menopause)
It must be noted that these symptoms may be a result of other health issues, therefore it is important that you contact your doctor if you have any concerns.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a cancer that arises from the cells of the cervix. There are two main types of cervical cancer, which include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of cervical cancer, accounting for around 80% of all cases. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous cells that line the outer surface of the cervix
- Adenocarcinoma accounts for around 20% of cervical cancers. Adenocarcinoma develops from the glandular cells located higher up in the cervix
There is a third type of cervical cancer known as neuroendocrine cervical cancer, although this cervical cancer is rare and often highly aggressive.
What is a pap smear?
A pap smear is a simple test used to check for changes in cells of the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer. A speculum (an instrument made of stainless steel or hard plastic) is gently placed on the entrance of the vagina so that the cervix can be seen before a small spatula is used to rub some cells from the cervix. The cells obtained during this process are then smeared onto a glass slide for analysis.
Do pap smears hurt?
The Pap smear process is not a painful process, although patients may feel slight discomfort during the process.
When to get a pap smear
It is recommended that all women over the age of 18 who have been sexually active receive a pap smear. This process should be repeated every two years, or two years after first sexual activity until the age of 70. After the age of 70, your doctor will advise you on whether or not you still need to undergo pap smears.
Abnormal Pap smear result
Abnormal Pap smear results are not uncommon. Almost all abnormal results are a direct result of infection of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This is a common outcome of being sexually active, with 4 out of 5 people having HPV at some stage in their lives. Generally, HPV will clear naturally in 1 to 2 years, however in a small number of cases; it may stay longer, which can attribute to cervical cancer. In this instance, HPV will need treatment to stop it from developing into cancer.
Pap smear Gold Coast
Dr Neil Wallman is highly experienced in conducting pap smears, whilst treating any Pap smear abnormalities such as infection or inflammation where necessary. Once Dr Wallman has diagnosed the particular abnormality he will work with you to tailor a treatment plan that suits your individual preference.