A lot of people might find the job of a cytotechnologist to be a bit boring, isolated and quiet. We spend most of the day glued to a microscope looking through millions of cells. For me it's a challenge, a puzzle, the thrill for the hunt of the enemy. How many lives will I potentially save today? The majority of the time I find pre-cancer cells which are easily treatable. However, once in a blue moon, I see the slide where a woman neglected to get routine pap smears. Cancer! If only, I sigh.
National Cytotechnology Day is celebrated annually on May 13th to honor Dr. Papanicolaou who gave us the Pap smear. This test has reduced the death from cervical cancer over 70% in the U.S. since it was introduced in the late 1940's. This inexpensive test is the most successful cancer screening test in history. Yet, women are still dying from this disease. Of the estimated 4,000 women projected to die in 2009, half will never have had a Pap smear and another 10% haven't had a Pap test in the past 5 years. When I see that a patient hasn't had a Pap smear in over 5 years I consider that patient at a high risk of having a pre-cancerous lesion. I take extra care because I know this patient is probably not going to have another one for years. This is my one chance to detect any pre-cancer.
Cervical cancer can be prevented, but only if you follow through with regular Pap smear examinations. So, have you made your appointment with your gynecologist? Do it today!