When should your Pap test begin? In “The Best Treatment”, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld of the New York Hospital-Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said you should have one annually starting in your teens, especially when you begin having sex, up to your 60th birthday.

Women belonging to the high-risk group should also be tested every year. If your smears are normal, there's no point in having a Pap test after the age of 60.

But not all doctors agree with Rosenfeld's recommendations. Others say a Pap smear should be done every three years after the first two tests one year a part yield negative results starring at the age of 35 or at the age when you first have sex.

"Ideally, a Pap smear should be taken yearly for sexually active females, especially women 35 years and above. However, considering our economic condition and since studies have shown that two or three Pap smears starting at 35 can confer the same benefits as a yearly exam, I advise a Pap test every three to five years if the first two tests are negative. In other countries, this procedure has reduced cancer rates by 40 to 55 percent," according to Dr. Rey de los Reyes, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the United Doctors Medical Center in the Philippines.

In cancer, however, it's best to be safe than sorry so a yearly Pap test is probably best for most women. That may mean more expenses and a little inconvenience on your part, but it will offer you more protection in the long run.

With regards to treatment, surgery will cure most early cases of cervical cancer. If the cancer has spread to other organs, a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy may do the trick.

"The best way to guarantee the eradication of abnormal cervical cells is by conization, the removal of the portion of the cervix in which they are located. But since this procedure may result in bleeding, infection, and perhaps reduce your chances of having a baby at some later date because of scarring, it should be reserved for severe cases,” Rosenfeld said.

“When dysplasia is mild or moderate, other methods such as freezing, laser vaporization, and burning (with a hot cautery) are easier and preferable. However, their long-term cure rate is a little lower. Whichever approach your choose, make sure to have repeat Pap smears every three months for at least two years just to make sure you're not one of the five or 10 percent of women in whom cancer subsequently develops," he added. (Next: Are you at risk for colon cancer?)

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Author's Bio: 

Sharon Bell is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premier online news magazine www.HealthLinesNews.com.