Most women know that a Smear test is something they have to do, it may not be the most pleasant health procedure, but we get letters and reminders from our doctors to go every three years.  A Smear test is looking for changes in the cells of the cervix which may indicate that there a further investigation is needed to prevent cervical cancer, which is the  fourth most common cancer in women.

It is called a PAP Smear as, it is the HPV of Human Papillomavirus which causes the majority (but not all) of Cervical Cancers.  HPV can be sexually transmitted.  There are over 100 different types of the HPV virus.  Around 40 can be transmitted sexually, and around 14 of them are said to be High Risk for cancers.  Cancers are not limited to the cervix, but can also be of the ovaries, penus, anus, rectum and oral cancers (as claimed by the actor Michael Douglas who claimed that he got throat cancer from performing oral sex).  It is HPV which causes genital warts.  However genital warts are a Low Risk HPV, and not connected with cancer.  So although they may be unsightly, very contagious and sometime irritating.  They are not going to cause cancer.

Better2Know promotes both a Smear test and an HPV test for women.  An HPV infection typically occurs earlier than any changes in the cells of the lining of the cervix, and therefore if you have a High Risk HPV, your doctor may invite you back for more frequent smear tests giving you the best chance of catching and treating any cancer early.  The earlier cancer is found, and treatment is started, the better your chance of beating it.


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