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September is National Gynecological Cancer Month-Early Detection of Cervical Cancer with Pap Smear Saves Lives

PHILADELPHIA (September 1, 2001) -- This year 12,900 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,400 women will die of the disease, but cervical cancer can be prevented with the help of a simple procedure called the Pap test or Pap smear.

The Pap test can be performed by a health care professional as part of a pelvic exam. It can help detect cancer and identify pre-cancerous conditions that can be treated.

"The American Cancer Society recommends that a Pap test, or Pap smear, be given annually beginning at the age of 18, or earlier if she is sexually active," advises Norman G. Rosenblum, MD, PhD, chief of gynecologic oncologic surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center. "After three or more consecutive annual exams with normal findings, the Pap test may be performed less frequently depending on your physician's advice."

The test is a simple procedure that takes very little time and can save a woman's life. To take the test, a physician will swab a small sample of cells from the cervix. The sample is then spread onto a slide that is sent to a lab to test for any abnormalities of the cells. If the test comes back questionable, another test will be performed.

"Women should let their physician know if they have had an abnormal Pap smear in the past and whether she is pregnant or taking birth control pills or other medications," Dr. Rosenblum adds. "To ensure the most accurate results, women should avoid using tampons, having intercourse, bathing in a tub, or douching 24 hours prior to the test."

The earlier cervical cancer is detected, the better the chances for recovery. Symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal discharge, spotting or bleeding, but they may also be signs of other conditions. Women should consult with their doctor if these symptoms occur.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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