What is the awareness rate of pap smear in Nigeria? This article is aimed at creating awareness for Nigerians on what the pap smear procedure entails, price/cost of pap smear, and where you can have it done in Nigeria.
A pap smear, also called pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence or absence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix (mouth of the womb).
During the routine test, cells from the cervix are gently scraped off and then examined for abnormal growth. Pap smear test is done on an outpatient basis as you will go back home within minutes.
The procedure does not hurt but you may feel a mild discomfort.
Who needs a pap smear?
All women greater than 20years should be screened every 3 years. You should get tested more often if you are HIV positive, diabetic, on chemotherapy, or have had an organ transplant. These conditions weakens the immune system making you more prone to cervical cancer hence the need for more frequent screening.
How often should you go for pap smear in Nigeria?
Just like in other parts of the world, Nigerian women between 30 and 50 years can go for cervical cancer screening every 3 years. Women greater than 50years can get screened every 5 years. Women above 65years with a history of normal pap smear results may stop the routine screening.
Seeing your doctor
You will have a question and answer interactive section with your doctor before the pap smear during which she will take take vital history from you. She will ask you questions on your age, last menstrual period, menstrual cycle, parity (number of children you have), have you attained menopause? If yes, for how long? Your current medications (if any), hormonal medications (if any), any history of exposure to radiations. Questions on smoking and alcohol are very important. These questions, tries to assess your risks of coming down with cervical cancer.
She will write down your answers, counsel you and book you for an appointment. Below is a well filed out pap smear request form used in University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin-City, Nigeria. Please do scan through it for it will aid your understanding of the procedure better.
A laboratory request form for pap smear in Nigeria.
How? Preparing yourself for pap smear
The sample collection is over in few minutes. Before going for screening, it is advised that you avoid sexual intercourse, or using vaginal medications for two days before the smear. It is best to schedule your appointment when not in your period. Be prepared that the doctor inserting the swab may cause some light discomfort-but it will be over shortly.
Cost of pap smear in Nigeria
I know this is very important to you. But let me surprise you, it is not expensive. The price/cost of paper smear in Nigeria is between 3,500naira-7,000naira (#3,500-#7,000). It may be higher in some facilities.
This is the “little” amount of money you need to save yourself from the menace of cervical cancer and reduce your worries.
Sometimes, some non governmental organisations esp in Lagos and Abuja offer free pap smear.
Where to do pap smear in Nigeria
Pap smear is done in most public hospitals (especially teaching hospitals) and some sophisticated laboratories in Nigeria such as Pathcare, Synlab, and Union Diagnostics. Pap smear can be done in these labs spread across Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Warri, Benin-city, Kaduna, Enugu, Sagamu, Ilorin, Ibadan etc.
Popular teaching hospitals that do pap smear in Nigeria include: UNTH (Enugu), UBTH (Benin city), Central Hospital (Benin), LUTH (Lagos), UCH (Ibadan), ABUTH (kaduna), UITH (Ilorin), National Hospital(Abuja) among others.
Reporting a pap smear result
A pap smear result may be normal or abnormal. An abnormal pap smear does not mean you have cancer.It only suggests you do further tests. Your doctor may recommend you do the pap smear more often and may request for a procedure called culposcopy. With culposcopy, your doctor will use light and magnification to view your cervix better and may take a biopsy (small part of your cervical tissue) for histology (further tests).
Pap smear results are 80 percent accurate.
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You can read more on cervical cancer screening on Healthline.