A test that saves women from cancer


Cervical cancer is a women’s disease. Many black women in South Africa get cervical cancer. And many women die from cervical cancer.


The cervix is at the mouth of the womb. The cancer grows in the skin of the cervix. The cancer grows very slowly.


Doctors can stop the cancer. But they can only stop the cancer if they find it very early. If doctors don’t find the cancer early, the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Then doctors cannot stop the cancer. And the woman can die.


A woman does not know when she has cervical cancer. She does not feel sore. She does not feel sick. Women only feel the cancer after a long time – and then it’s too late.


A pap smear is the only way to find cervicaI cancer early. The pap smear is a test for cancer. The pap smear is not painful. It does not take very long.


All women must have a pap smear test. If the test shows cancer, the doctors can help the woman. Some­ times the woman with cancer does not even have to stay in hospital.

But when the cancer has grown, doctors must cut it out. If the cancer is very bad the doctors may cut out the whole womb. This is called a hysterectomy.


The pap smear often shows that women do not have cancer. But then women must not stop having tests. They must go for another test. They must go after one year. Then they must go for tests every two years.


Women can go to hospital or to the family planning clinic for the test. Doctors often don’t tell women about pap smears. So the women must always ask for a pap smear. They must tell the doctors that they want this test.


Many doctors say pap smears shouId be free. They say the government does not spend enough money to fight cervical cancer. They say the govern­ment spends a lot of money on birth control.


But they don’t spend enough money to give all women free pap smears. That is why many doctors don’t tell women about pap smears. That is why women must always ask for the test.


Doctors don’t know for sure why women get this cancer But they know of some things. Doctors think women who have sex when they are very young may get this cancer. Also women who sleep with many men may get this cancer. Some doctors think women get this cancer from men. They can get this cancer when men don’t keep themselves clean.


These things make it more easy for a woman to get cancer of the cervix. But doctors don’t know all the causes. Other things can cause the cancer. So the cancer is a danger for all women.

But the only way to stop cervical cancer is to find it early. To do this, all women must have pap smears. And they must have this test every two years.


So all women should go to the hospital. Or they should go to the family planning clinic. They must ask for the pap smear test. They should not wait. They should go as soon as they can.

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