Having Pap smears at recommended intervals is the most important thing a woman can do to protect herself from developing cervical cancer.
Regular Pap testing is important because
no test is 100 percent accurate
no one can predict who will develop cervical cancer
this procedure enables healthcare providers to detect early precancerous changes in the tissue of the cervix and treat them before they become cancerous
women who have regular Pap smears are much less likely to develop cervical cancer than are women who don't have the test regularly, because they get early treatment for precancerous conditions.
Between 60 and 80 percent of women with newly diagnosed cervical cancer haven't had a Pap smear in at least 5 years. A woman who's had regular Pap smears can still develop cervical cancer, but her condition will almost certainly be diagnosed in its earliest, most curable stage.
Nice To Know:
When a woman has had three normal Pap smears in a row
her doctor may recommend less frequent Pap smears
an annual pelvic exam will still be necessary to check for abnormalities of the vagina, ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes
A woman may need more-frequent Pap smears if she
has more than one sexual partner
became sexually active as a teenager
has had an abnormal Pap smear
has had a sexually transmitted disease (STD),
has had cancer or precancerous tissue growth in the cervix