You Can’t Saddle Up Without The StirrupsJune 3, 2011 2 Comments
You’re laying there on your back waiting, anticipating the dreaded cold metal tongs. Getting your Pap smear is never a fun experience, but it’s essential.
Think of it as cervical upkeep. If there’s any type of cancer that health care professionals can detect early, it’s cervical. That is, if you’re getting a test done regularly.
But it’s not so much getting the test done in the first place as it is getting a follow-up if your initial test was abnormal. One in 4 women with abnormal Pap smears don’t go back for a follow-up, according to the Canadian Press.
While the blame may be placed on doctors for not following up with the patient to set up another appointment, it’s largely the responsibility of the patient. Not being pro-active about your own health is not an inherent flaw within the health care system.
Most women are aware that Pap smears “identify precancerous cells or lesions on the cervix which can be easily treated so they don’t develop into cancer.” It’s not like they’re uniformed or anything.
However, not all fault should be placed on the patient. The problem may stem from a general “breakdown in communications,” said Dr. Rachel Kupets, the lead investigator of the study.
Dr. Kupets believes that if the numbers of cervical cancer are going to remain low (only an estimated 400 women die of the disease in Canada each year), it’s going to have to be a two-way street between health care professionals and patients.
Doctor’s offices and clinics should certainly need to take initiative when it comes to their patients. Increasing wait times may be annoying, but neglecting your Pap could be fatal down the road.
The responsibility can only go this far though. Patients have to have to be genuinely concerned and understand the importance of regular tests. Many women go every year and wonder why they have to keep going if nothing is coming up.
Truth is, though, you can have abnormal squamous cells turn up at any time. You won’t believe it until it happens to you. It’s no reason for panic or paranoia, but a healthy dose of worry is to your benefit so more serious measures don’t have to be taken.
So now it’s up to you to follow up. Your cervix depends on it.
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