A Pap smeartests for the presence of cervical cancer in a patient. During a gynecological exam, our doctors take a small sample of cells from the outer part of the cervix and send it to a laboratory. In the laboratory, a technician evaluates the cells to ensure that they aren’t abnormal.
The risk of cervical cancer is significant, but highly curable if caught early. Pap smears help doctors catch cervical cancer quickly so that it can be treated effectively.
In general, the medical staff at The Women’s Group recommends that sexually active women over the age of 21 get a Pap smear at least once every 3 years. At the age of 30, women may opt to get Pap smears once every 5 years, but our doctors recommend testing for human papillomavirus during this interval as well. Discuss your Pap smear needs with the doctor before deciding on a particular interval.
During a Pap smear, the patient lays down on a bed and puts her feet in stirrups. The doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina. Once the doctor has visualized the cervix, they use a small brush or other instrument to remove some cells from the cervix.
Though usually not painful, if a patient experiences discomfort during a Pap smear, they should bring the issue to the doctor’s attention.
If a patient’s Pap smear results appear abnormal, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have cervical cancer. Our team at The Women’s Group always orders further testing to determine why the results appear abnormal. In some cases, abnormal results indicate that there are precancerous cells, which must be removed.
The purpose of a colposcopy is to look for cervical precancers and rule out cervical cancer, so having a colposcopy exam can give you peace of mind. Our practice is one of the first in the nation to offer DySIS – the next generation colposcope with an advanced cervical scan. This new technology helps our clinicians better identify abnormal areas for earlier treatment and educate our patients.
To learn more about abnormal pap smears, click here.
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