Cervical cancer screening and precancerous conditions

Cervical cancer screening helps in detecting the changes in the cervical cells that may progress to cause cervical cancer. The tests include HPV tests and Pap smear tests. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should undergo a Pap test every three years. Precancerous conditions are also present in other organs of the female reproductive system, such as the vagina, vulva, and endometrium.

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  • HPV Test: Certain types of human papillomavirus, such as types 16 and 18, significantly increase the risk of cervical cancer. HPV tests detect the presence of the human papillomavirus as a part of cervical cancer screening. The patients are advised to avoid douching, intercourse, or using jelly or lotion two days before the test.
  • Pap Test: A pap smear test is also done for cervical cancer screening. The doctor performs the Pap smear test along with a comprehensive pelvic examination. The Pap smear test helps diagnose cervical cancer and allows the doctor to determine the alterations in cells that may cause cancer in the future.
  • Endometrial Precancerous Lesions: Precancerous lesions of the endometrium involve intraepithelial neoplasia and endometrial hyperplasia. These premalignant lesions result in the development of type 1 and type 2 endometrial carcinomas. The patients with premalignant lesions for type 1 experience menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) and metorrhagia (abnormal or dysfunctional uterine bleeding), while patients with premalignant lesions for type 1 experience postmenopausal bleeding.
  • Cervical Precancerous Lesions: There is a transformation zone present in the cervix. The cervical cells of the transformation zone undergo changes that lead to cervical precancerous lesions. The changes in these cells may exist in any of the three stages, i.e., cervical intraepithelial neoplasia stage 1, stage 2, or stage 3.
  • Vaginal Precancerous Lesions: The premalignant lesions of the vagina are also known as vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia. The precancerous cells are present in the inner vaginal lining. These cells may transform into vaginal cancer in some women.
  • Vulvar Precancerous Lesions: The vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia is of two types. The lesions caused by HPV are more common, with better outcomes. The other type is less common, not caused by HPV, and has a poor outcome.