Cervical Cancer: Diagnosis And Detection
Of all types of cancers, cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in females but with much less common in the United States due to the routine practice of Pap Smears. Cervical cancer begins in the cervix and usually develops very slowly as it is always starts with a precancerous condition in its initial stage. If detected earlier, cervical cancer can be 100% treatable. However, when cervical cancer progresses to its final stage, it is always hard to get it cured.
Diagnosis and Detection for Cervical Cancer
Early detection is always recommended as it leads to successful treatment and higher cure rates. As the early stages of cervical cancer is always proceeding without any significant symptoms/ signs, it is very important for women to go for a regular cervical cancer screening i.e., pap smear to help cut off the risk of getting cervical cancer.
Pap smears or cervicovaginal smears are examples of screening tests used to detect the presence of pre-malignant and/or malignant cells growing onto the cervix. They are performed by taking out a sample of cells from the outer opening of the cervix, uterus as well as endocervix. Then, the cells are tested and examined for both infections and abnormalities. The pap smear test may need to be repeated if results show abnormal. HPV DNA test may also be used to detect the presence of HIV viruses.
Previously, conventional pap smear was introduced but due to its higher frequency of false negative results and sampling errors, several liquid-based technologies, i.e., ThinPrep® was recommended in 1996. This liquid-based pap test has been approved by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as it shows significantly more effective detection of pre-cancerous cervical cells in comparison to the conventional pap smears.
ThinPrep® Pap Smear (dual screen) is the latest technology that helps reduce false negative results by 42%. It basically consists of two reviews. First, the imagers scan each cell cluster on the slide and then measure the DNA content. Darkest and larger nuclei (objects of interest in 22 fields) are also identified. Second, the cytotechnologists review those 22 fields of interest for any abnormalities. In certain hospitals, there may be final review by pathologists in examining the abnormal cells highlighted by the cytotechnologists to confirm its diagnosis. This will help increase the sensitivity and accuracy of the test.
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