Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Early detection is key

Rokiah Mahmud

Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC) is commemorating Cervical Cancer Awareness with a health campaign throughout January via social media. The campaign serves to educate and raise awareness on cervical cancer and the importance of early prevention via screening and vaccination.

The PJSC aims to highlight the importance of early detection of cervical cancer through regular cervical screenings. The long-established method to check for cervical cancer is with a pap test, which detects abnormal changes in the cervix cells.

Women ages 26-65 with a history of sexual activities are encouraged and recommended to undergo a pap test.

Despite the availability of cervical screening programmes in the Sultanate, less than 44 per cent of women in the country undergo pap test screening regularly, a figure considered to be low.

In a press release shared by PJSC, the specialist centre recently released a video entitled ‘Debunking Pap test Myths’, featuring Early Detection and Cancer Prevention Services (EDCPS) Senior Medical Officer Dr Nur Sadrina binti Haji Marshidi.

Early Detection and Cancer Prevention Services Senior Medical Officer Dr Nur Sadrina binti Haji Marshidi. PHOTO: PANTAI JERUDONG SPECIALIST CENTRE

Dr Sadrina said it is normal for some women to feel ashamed, painful and scared of the results.

“It can be nerve-wrecking for clients, waiting for the results to come out. To overcome this, they should confide in someone they can trust or talk to the doctors or nurses to lessen
their worries,” she said.

Different people have different pap test experiences, said Dr Sadrina.

“Some clients said their pap test felt uncomfortable and that it hurts. However, it is important to learn the pap testing process,” she added.

She also explained, “A pap test is performed in the doctor’s office and takes only a few minutes.

“The client will be asked to lie down on the examination table and may be asked to undress from the waist down. A cloth will be placed on top of the client and a medical tool called speculum will be inserted into the client’s private part.

“The speculum holds the walls of the undersection apart to enable the doctor to see the cervix easily. Then comes the part where it can feel uncomfortable.

“The doctor will take samples of the cervical cells using a soft brush. The cell samples collected from the cervix via soft brush will be transferred to a special liquid to preserve the sample.

“The speculum will be removed gently and the samples will be sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope for traits in the cells that indicate cancer or a precancerous condition.”

Dr Sadrina shared that there are many factors that can cause a client to feel uncomfortable or hurt during the pap test, such as the speculum not fitting well or the client not positioned properly.

“The EDCPS will do their best to accommodate their client, but her emotions also play a large role in feeling uneasiness during the process. This is where our doctors and nurses can come in to give support to the client.”

Dr Sadrina added, “Some people recommend undergoing the test after getting married, because the hymen will be broken. This highlights two questions – on doing the test after getting married and about the hymen.

“Pap test is a test to prevent cervical cancer. It is recommended for women between the ages of 20 to 65 who are sexually active. It does not matter whether they are married or not.

“The hymen is a thin layer of tissue covering the vagina, and most people believe that a sexual intercourse will break it. When a speculum is inserted in a slow and gentle manner, it will be unlikely to cause any trauma.”

She concluded, “Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable if detected early and managed effectively. Even if a pap test can be uncomfortable, it is a lifesaving procedure, which if done regularly, can prevent cervical cancer. Prevention is always better than cure.

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