Holidaymakers on Samui aren’t simply drawn by the beaches and the nightlife here; many are here as medical tourists. And many come not so much for major operations, but simpler routines such as dental work, cosmetic procedures and even health checks that cover everything from blood profiles to gynaecological examinations. It might seem odd to schedule a health check whilst on holiday, but it’s actually quite normal, with the hospitals emailing patients their results.
A lot of questions get asked of doctors, particularly concerning gynaecology tests, and it always helps to have a friendly specialist to provide information. At Bangkok Samui Hospital, the gynaecology and obstetrics department is run by two doctors, who work in tandem. Appointments are scheduled from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm every day, but outside those times there’s an on-call service day and night for emergencies.
Of particular concern to many patients are the routine check-ups. According to the hospital, every woman should ensure that she gets these done on a regular basis. Detection of problems is much easier now than it ever used to be, so it’s just a question of doing the tests. The question is when.
Basic guidelines call for tests to be done at intervals. There are two of them: a Pap smear test and an HPV test. Women should start having tests three years after having their first sexual intercourse. (If no intercourse takes place, then at age 30.) Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every three years. Beginning at age 30, the preferred way to screen is with a Pap test combined with an HPV test. The interval between tests depends on their previous test results. This is called co-testing, and should continue until age 65. Alternatively, women aged 30 to 65 can get tested every three years with just the Pap test, if the last test result is negative for malignancy. Women who are at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases should get tested every year.
Women over 65 years of age who’ve never had serious pre-cancers, and have had regular screening in the previous ten years should stop cervical cancer screening. So should women who have had hysterectomies and who show only benign symptoms of disease. Women who have abnormal screening results may need to have a colposcopic examination – a follow-up Pap test (sometimes with a HPV test) done in six months or a year. There are some other exceptions to the guidelines, too.
The Pap test is a procedure used to collect cells from the cervix so that they checked under a microscope for abnormalities. The test can be done during a pelvic exam (unless the women is menstruating), but not all pelvic exams include a Pap test. An HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) test can be done on the same sample of cells collected from the Pap test. HPV is responsible for cervical cancer, but alas it’s very hard to avoid HPV. It’s basically transmitted through all forms of sexual contact; therefore it’s recommended that as soon as a woman becomes sexually active, she should begin to schedule the tests.
The HPV test alone detects 13 types of cancer. If women follow the guidelines, they’re able to detect problems before they become serious, with the entire object being to keep cervical cancer from forming in the first place.
If all is well, and both tests are negative, then usually the patient can schedule the next test for three years later. If the HPV is positive, then the next test depends on the cytological exam (Pap smear) result. HPV abnormalities can lead to the formation of cancer, but it’s usually a slow process and can take up to ten years. If it’s found early, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers. This is due to the effectiveness of the tests and the slowness of the disease’s progression. These days, most cervical cancers are found in women who have never had a Pap test or who have not had one recently.
If both tests are positive, then the doctor may order a colposcopy with a biopsy taken of the cervix. The test results take seven days. For cervical cancer screening and tissue biopsy, the samples are sent to their head laboratory in Bangkok.
Whether you live on the island or are holidaying here and you have gynaecological health concerns of any kind, then it’s a good idea to visit Bangkok Hospital Samui. Experts there will quickly inform you what needs to be done. They can schedule a treatment plan which you can continue when back at home, if needed.
For further information telephone: 0 7742 9500.