Get pap test every 3 years, women told

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WOMEN in Brunei should get their pap test every three years as preventive measure, as risks of developing cervical cancer increases with age, said senior health official at the Ministry of Health (MoH) recently.

Speaking to The Brunei Times at the sidelines of a cervical awareness campaign for Kampong Lambak Kanan residents on Sunday, Dr Siti Rosemawati Hj Mohd Yussof, senior medical officer from the Community Health Services department said women should not miss their triennial pap test as Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is very difficult to detect.

She said there is no significant symptom before infection and at the early cervical cancer stage.

According to figures obtained from The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC), 421 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2005 to 2014, with at least 30 women diagnosed with cervical cancer every year.

HPV, according to the health official is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract.

The virus can be transmitted by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus.

“Pap test should be done routinely every three years, and for those who are already married or has had intercourse must get it done,” she said, noting that pap smears can detect abnormalities before they turn into cancer cells.

Dr Siti said regular preventive care is one of the most important ways to maintain health over time, adding that women should not wait to see a doctor only after noticing a problem as it may be too late.

“Pap smears can detect early precancerous changes on the cervix,” she said.

The health official said women can go to their nearest clinic or to the Maternal and Child Health Clinic to get their pap test done.

She said the rate of women in Brunei undergoing regular pap smear exams is still relatively low.

Dr Siti said MoH had played its part in providing pap test services, and that it is up to the residents to take advantage of the services offers.

“We have screening and vaccinations but the uptake needs to be increased,” she said, adding that women should not fear or be ashamed of going for their pap smear examinations.

The Brunei Times