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By Carine Nadel

We all know the drill about how important it is to keep our yearly trip to the gynecologist. Do we know why? Of course, it's to make sure we find out as soon as possible if there is a serious problem with our reproductive system: breast cancer, ovarian cancer and one of the most treatable cancers cervical. There are a host of other infections and diseases, but these are the top ones, according to the American Cancer Society Facts and Figures from 1997-2005.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common for women to deal with and it can be detected by taking a Pap test.  While the Pap test has been around since the 1920's, it remained unchanged until the development of the ThinPrepPap Test, which was approved for use in 1996 by the FDA.

What is ThinPrep?  Developed by the Cytyc Corporation, it is a liquid-based Pap test that preserves cells, eliminates debris and distributes a representative portion of cells on a slide in an even layer-making it easier to read the outcome in a much more accurate way enabling doctors to detect lesions at a much earlier time in their growth than the earlier version of the test, which has been around since the early 1920's!

How important is this fact?   If you ask patients who didn't get it, they would tell you that it would've meant less surgery and less worry.  

Patti (who prefers not to use her last name) of Costa Mesa, California was a very young college student in 1995 when she started having abnormal Pap test results.  The campus medical center used the conventional test, after 3 months, she had a normal results-even though she continued to complain about severe pelvic and thigh pain.  In 1999, with new medical coverage, Patti had her first ThinPrep test which revealed that she had a high-grade dysplasia (pre-cervical cancer).  Out of that test, an HPV test was done and it came back positive as well.  

While Patti had been practicing regular screening, it was this newer version that made the diagnosis and her prognosis more positive.  Today, Patti has been able to have 2 children and hopes to have a third.  "However, even with the fortunate outcome I've had, I must go in every year-and not just for the Pap test, I also have to go through having a colposcopy and the LEEP test performed.  I did have to have 3 surgeries, one of which included the reconstruction of my cervix.

"If I could say one thing to women everywhere is this-we know our bodies better than the doctors do and if we have the slightest idea that something is wrong, then we need to push to find the answers.  I'm passionate about telling women to keep their screening up and asking for the ThinPrep."

Jacqueline Whitmore, now 43, was diagnosed in 2001 with Aden carcinoma in situ-also the early stages of cervical cancer-unlike Patti, she never had any symptoms, but she had been putting off her yearly exam for 4 years.  "I was married, very healthy and I wasn't on contraceptives or any other medications, so I didn't feel the need to get a check up"

"It was by chance, while in the waiting room for my appointment with a new gynecologist that I read about the ThinPrep-it was because I went in and asked and paid more for it that I received the diagnosis!  After the initial shock wore off, I found a wonderful oncologist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, had surgery and have been cancer-free since then.

"I was luck, but others aren't as fortunate, I now am an advocate for creating awareness for cervical health and making sure to get yearly screening."

What do gynecologists say about the trend toward NOT getting a yearly Pap test?  Dr. Jill Hechtman in Tampa, Florida says, "The key is to GET TO THE DOCTOR!  You need annual exams for the pap AND a pelvic exam.  Remember, the what if's are worse than the what are's!

Hectman says "I think everyone should use (or request) ThinPrep.  The FDA says "it is significantly more effective" than the conventional Pap smear.  I am unclear as to why another system is still in use!  From the cost standpoint alone, if the cancer is caught early, not only will the patient's health be less compromised, but the cost of treating the patient goes way down!"

When diagnosed with cervical cancer-what are a woman's treatment choices?

According to Hectman, the usual choice is dependant on the stage of the cancer.  "In the early stages, surgery is the first choice.  In the later stages, chemo and radiation would be the standard.  In extreme cases or for certain recurrences, then a pelvic exenteration is sometimes done.  The exenteration is a huge reconstructive surgery that removes all of the lower pelvic organs."

Learn more about the ThinPrepPap test.

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Patti Juric wrote Jan 22, 2009
    • Thanks Carine for the article - you did us justice! Please everyone, if there is just one thing you do for yourself, let that one thing be the ThinPrep Pap Test coupled with an HPV test. It really does save lives.  

      HPV and cervical cancer do not know age, race, religion, sexual status, martial status, or socio-economic factors. Anyone, male or female, who are having any form of sexual contact are at risk for HPV. If they are lucky enough to have a strong immune system, then perhaps they will not get cancer. But for those of us that fall into the 10 percent that does get cancer, it is a very trying, life long struggle to overcome the fear of cancer and HPV.  

      Even after having had cancer and treatment, you might still be at risk for HPV, except it can come in the form of head, neck and throat cancer, as well as vaginal and anal cancer.  

      So please get your yearly Pap, along with an HPV test, because the hour or more it takes at the doctor is worth it if you do not have to go through a lifetime of wondering long after your cancer treatment is done.  

      For more information, please check out the National Cervical Cancer Coalition at Also, you can get information about the Pap test at or visit [Link Removed] for more information about HPV!

      Pattisev, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Carine Nadel wrote Jan 22, 2009
    • glad you liked it-this really is so very important to all women!  Get ye to your gyn!

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