Pap smear is a routine test to detect cervical cancer in its early form. At Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology in Alpharetta and Atlanta, Georgia, the team of experienced OB/GYNs takes every precaution possible to preserve your health and prevent reproductive cancers. Pap smear is an integral part of that approach, so schedule your well-woman exam online or call the office nearest you to make an appointment today.
A Pap smear is the most widely used cervical cancer screening test. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer among women today, but up to 93% of cervical cancers are preventable with screening tests like Pap smear.
Usually performed during a well-woman exam, this test involves collecting a tiny sample of cells from your cervix (the opening to your uterus). Pap smears are generally painless, but some women describe feeling a quick pinch during the test.
A Pap smear checks for cellular abnormalities or precancers in your cervix and essentially identifies cells that could later turn into cervical cancer if untreated. Human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection, causes most of these precancers.
HPV testing, another test that involves evaluating a cervical cell sample, checks for HPV while a Pap smear identifies changes resulting from HPV.
Both tests may be part of your cervical cancer screening during your well-woman exam. You may have an HPV or Pap test alone, or both at the same time.
The Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology team can recommend a personalized Pap smear schedule for you. In general, all women aged 21-29 need to have a Pap smear every three years.
At age 25-29, you may be able to have an HPV test every three years instead, but a Pap smear is still the preferred method of cervical cancer screening.
At age 30-65, you can co-test (Pap smear and HPV together) every five years. Or, you can opt for a Pap smear every three years or an HPV test every five years. After 65, you may be able to stop cervical cancer screening, depending on your test history and risk factors.
Certain factors may change these guidelines. When determining the ideal cervical cancer screening plan, the team considers your age, sexual habits, and cancer risk. This could mean testing as often as every year in some cases.
An abnormal Pap smear rarely means that you have cervical cancer; however, it may mean that you have potentially dangerous cells in your cervix.
Fortunately, most HPV goes away on its own, so the cell changes that it causes vanish as well. In many cases, the team may recommend monitoring with routine Pap smears to check for changes.
You may need a biopsy to study the abnormal cells in the lab or a colposcopy so your doctor can view the cells up close.
If necessary, there are also several treatment options to remove or safely destroy the abnormal cells. These can prevent cancer progression and even save your life.
Schedule your Pap smear by calling Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology or booking an appointment online today.