Pap Tests: What You Need To Know

Cancer of the cervix seems like the kind of disease medical science should have wiped out long ago. Linked to viruses, it's detectable and curable in a precancerous stage. When the Pap test was introduced after World War II, the death rate fell 70%. Yet cervical cancer kills almost one of three of the 16,000 women a year in the U.S. who get it. Many people don't understand its nature as a sexually transmitted disease for which almost all women are at risk. Others don't realize that since the late '80s, the venerable Pap test has not been considered a foolproof screening system.

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