This week, the Health Board issued the advice to send a self-test with a call for a diagnosis to screen the population. This would lower the threshold for women to be tested for HPV (human papillomavirus), which can cause cervical cancer.
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Some women don’t get tested for several reasons. For example, because they are busy, not anxious, or because they do not like to go to the doctor with their legs wide.
Bianca Buscha (49) was one of the women. It hasn’t even been tested for HPV for fifteen years. “I was always thinking, ‘Oh, there’s nothing wrong with me, I’ll be fine. “And I just had a busy life in my thirties. Looking back, I think it’s very different.”
That changed when she was forty-five years old. “I have a strange feeling, as if something wasn’t right. But I had no complaints, so when I got a call for a population check that year, I let it go first. When I saw that I could order a self-exam, I did. I had a new GP and it didn’t I’d like to do a smear there.”
The self-test result was poor: Bianca was found to have PAP3-A2, which means that disturbed cells were found near the cervix. “I did a lot of preliminary research and knew PAP3 is not good. When I heard that, the ground fell under my feet.”
human papilloma virus
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, and you don’t usually notice it. Almost everyone is exposed to HPV, but most of the time the body clears it on its own. If not, HPV can develop into cervical cancer. By screening the population, women between the ages of 30 and 60 are invited to participate in the study every five years. Many cases of cervical cancer (in the earlier stages) are detected in time by a smear. You can have this swab done in a doctor’s office, but it can also be sent by self-exam.
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Then Bianca is referred to the hospital. “There she undergoes a zipper check. They first want to know how deeply the virus has penetrated the cervix. It was already too deep for me.” As a result, the doctors decided that Bianca needed treatment. “They burned all the cells. By the way, that smells really bad!”
Because HPV is often permanent and can recur, patients are kept under control. “At first I had to go every six months and when these results were good it allowed me to stay away longer. In the end I was on the road with her for 3 years.”
Fortunately, Bianca was fine. “Now I’m on PAP1, it’s the best you can score. Going back in time, I think: How lucky I was! Because I’ve never been tested and can go from PAP2 or PAP3 to cervical cancer.”
Bianca was looking for her fellow sufferers: women who had suffered or went through the same thing. “After the Pap smear, I was very nervous, because I previously found out what could happen. I was looking for companions who were suffering! But I couldn’t find anyone except the horse forum. There were groups of women with cervical cancer, but I was in a completely different stage” . So she decided to start a Facebook page on her own. That was a smear.
“There, women who are waiting for a Pap result or who have a poor result can exchange ideas. We have a lot of support for each other. We have a lot of stories, fears and beautiful people. It’s strange that we are still the only ones, which surprises me!” laughs Bianca.
Does it hurt?
What does Bianca think of the Pap smear itself? Was that annoying? “Okay…” Bianca begins. “Of course it’s not really fun. Once I got to the hospital I would wait half-naked while the doctors were preparing things, which of course is uncomfortable. But it doesn’t hurt.” She has another tip: “Ask your doctor if they use a plastic duckbill or use a self-exam.”
According to Bianca, screening the population is of great importance in detecting the virus and preventing its further exacerbation. “In fact, I think it should be expanded to include every year and younger ages. It is enough for young women to come into contact with HPV.”
That is why she invites everyone to take the test. Make time for this! Just do it, even if you haven’t been for long. Surely with such a self-examination you no longer have an excuse. He is a silent killer, most women, like me, have absolutely no complaints There are a lot of women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. A test like this will help you get there as quickly as possible.”
It will be Bianca’s turn again next year to screen the population and will be tested immediately. “Now I am not worried at all, but by then it will be very exciting again. However I will do it. I will probably not be as lucky as five years ago.”
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