All women should go for regular screening for cervical cancer. Here's more advice from Dr Prof Tay Sun Kuie from the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Who should go for cervical cancer screening?
- Screening targets women, 25 years or older, who have had sexual intercourse.
- Screening is recommended regardless of previous HPV vaccination.
- Screening is for all women, regardless of family history of cancer, history of pregnancy and childbirth, number of sexual partners, method of contraception, and smoking habits.
- Screening is repeated every five years if the woman remains well, has no abnormal changes in vaginal bleeding or discharge, and has no abnormal cervical findings on routine medical examination.
- Screening should continue after menopause regardless of cessation of sexual intercourse.
- Screening can cease if a woman has an operation to remove her uterus.
Timely eradication of CIN
- Cancer development can be prevented only if CIN is treated early.
- In 75 per cent of cases, grade-2 or grade-3 CIN can be effectively treated with a simple surgery known as LEEP or Loop Electro-Excision Procedure.
- This is an office procedure done with local anaesthetic.
- Approximately 25 per cent of cases of grade-3 CIN are treated with a surgery known as cone biopsy. In this procedure, a central portion of the cervix is removed. In most instances, the surgery is done with laser surgery in an operation suite.
- More than 90 per cent of cases have successful cure of CIN with one treatment only. The remaining cases are cleared of CIN in subsequent treatments.
If I do a cervical cancer screening test at 5-year intervals, should I continue with my yearly gynaecological check-ups?
You should not change your routine visit to your gynaecologist. Although your cervical cancer screening is done at 5-year interval, you still need to see your gynaecologist for a number of reasons, for example:
- screening of other diseases;
- managing menstrual problems, contraception, or fertility issues;
- treatment of genital infections; and
- managing menopausal issues.