How accurate is a Pap smear for cervical cancer?

Although Pap tests may not always be accurate, they are one of the most effective cancer prevention tools a woman can utilize to stay healthy. In fact, the Pap test is largely responsible for a 70 percent decrease in cervical cancer deaths in the United States in the past 50 years.

Do Pap smears always detect cervical cancer?

The Pap test and HPV test are screening tests, not diagnostic tests. They cannot tell for certain if you have cervical cancer. An abnormal Pap test or HPV test result may mean more testing is needed to see if a cancer or a pre-cancer is present.

Can a doctor see cervical cancer during a Pap smear?

Unlike other gynecologic cancers, cervical cancer can be detected through various screening tests. The most common screening test to detect cervical cancer or precancerous cells (dysplasia) is the Pap test.

Can PAP miss cervical cancer?

Other research suggests that a single Pap test can miss early signs of cervical cancer up to half the time. While the Pap test is valuable, it does not always detect cancer cells early, when treatment is easiest and most effective.

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Can cervical cancer be missed on a smear test?

But screening does not prevent all cases of cervical cancer. You can test negative for types of human papillomavirus (HPV) and still develop cervical cancer. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. Abnormal cells in the cervix can also be missed.

Can a Pap smear be wrong?

False-positive results of Pap smears may sometimes occur. Recent research and new technology have led to more accurate tests, however, these are more costly and are not always covered by insurance. If a false positive result occurs, the doctor may recommend the use of a different test to confirm the results.

What can be mistaken for cervical cancer?

One situation sometimes seen by clinicians performing pelvic exams for abnormal bleeding that can be confused with cervical cancer is a prolapsed uterine fibroid. In this situation a large mass is seen on pelvic exam coming from the cervix. Again a biopsy if the diagnosis is uncertain will provide clarity.

What was your first cervical cancer symptom?

The first identifiable symptoms of cervical cancer are likely to include: Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as after intercourse, between menstrual periods, or after menopause; menstrual periods may be heavier and last longer than normal. Pain during intercourse. Vaginal discharge and odor.

What are the early warning signs of cervical cancer?

Early Warning Signs of Cervical Cancer

  • Vaginal bleeding (either after intercourse, between periods or post-menopause)
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (heavy or with a foul odor)
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Pain and swelling in legs.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Decreased appetite.
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Can a doctor tell by looking at your cervix if you have cancer?

Colposcopy. This procedure lets the healthcare provider look very closely at your cervix using a lighted magnifying tool called a colposcope. It can help find abnormal areas on the cervix.

Does a normal Pap mean no cancer?

A Pap smear checks for any cells that don’t look healthy and normal and may be cancerous. A normal result means that all of the cells in your cervix look healthy and normal. They are not cancerous.

What kind of cancer can a Pap smear detect?

The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical cancer. Since there is no simple and reliable way to screen for any gynecologic cancer except for cervical cancer, it is especially important to recognize warning signs, and learn what you can do to reduce your risk.