Doctor Shows Cervical Cancer Tumor in Video, Urges People to Get Pap Smears

A doctor has shared a video of a cancerous tumor on TikTok, in order to encourage young women to get a Pap smear.

The video, which can be seen here, shows a uterus and the cancerous cervix attached to it and has been viewed more than 80,000 times at the time of writing.

"I see what a disease can do, what it can do when left for a long time," Paweł Ziora, the pathologist who shared the video, told Newsweek over email.

"What I find hard to stand is that some of those diseases could be caught much, much earlier, causing much less damage."

Viewers have largely reacted with shock, with some commenters proclaiming that although they find screening tests for cervical cancer uncomfortable, the potential consequences of not getting one are too great to ignore.

Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection.

At least 80 percent of women will have been infected with HPV by the time they turn 50, according to the CDC.

Most people's immune systems are capable of eliminating the virus naturally, but in some cases HPV can linger, and when it lingers it can cause precancers, which if left undetected and untreated can develop into cancer.

When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life, but if it isn't, the cancer could grow or spread to other parts of the body.

Ziora, who is based at the Medical University of Silesia in Zabrze, Poland, lost his father to an undetected cancer, and doesn't want other people to suffer as his family did.

"I'm the first medical related person in my family and I know what non-medics know, and what they don't know," he said.

"My father died from an undetected large intestine cancer—he never went for a colonoscopy."

A Pap test detects precancers, while a HPV test detects the virus that can cause these precancers.

Guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that women start getting tested every three years from the age of 21, and every five years thereafter.

During a screening test, a doctor will collect cells and mucus from the cervix and surrounding area, after using a plastic or metal tool called a speculum to widen the vagina.

A survey in 2018 found that 35 percent of women aged 25-35 did not attend screening tests out of embarrassment.

The HPV vaccine, recommended for people aged 11-26, can also offer protection from the virus, though it is less effective for adults.

"Even if only a few people will start to check themselves, I will be pleased," said Ziora, who also posts videos on other conditions and illnesses.

"A lot of people are shocked seeing that a tumor can look like those that I'm showing. That's good—there is a chance to send a message. Some things can be prevented."

A speculum used for cervical screening tests
A stock image shows a speculum, which is used in cervical screening tests. Pap smears can detect cervical cancer in its early stages, making it easier to treat. Vadym Terelyuk/iStock