Your doctor insists it’s time for your routine Pap smear. You have no symptoms, and you wonder if it’s even necessary. But don’t forget: this simple test is all about cancer prevention, and it’s important to keep yours up-to-date. OB-GYN Associates PC in Cedar Rapids, Iowa offers routine Pap tests, easily conducted during your usual pelvic exam. Book your appointment online today or call the office for more information.
A Pap smear, or Pap test, is a procedure for collecting a sample of cells from the cervix to test for the presence of cancer. This painless test may also detect abnormal cells which might later develop into cancer.
The cells taken from the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) are sent to the lab and examined under a microscope for any abnormal characteristics.
When cancerous or precancerous cells are detected early enough, you have a much better chance of defeating cervical cancer or of stopping its development altogether.
Doctors recommend women ages 21-65 have the test every three years. If you're over 30 and your test is combined with the HPV test, you can consider having the Pap test every five years. (HPV is a sexually transmitted disease which can sometimes develop into cancer.)
You may need the test more often if you have certain risk factors for cervical cancer:
You also have a greater risk if you were exposed to a drug called DES before birth.
After age 65, you can stop the routine testing if your tests have always been negative (showing no signs of cancer). Or, if your cervix has been removed during a total hysterectomy, you may not need to continue Pap testing.
A positive Pap test result means that abnormal cells were found; it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll develop cancer. Your providers at OB-GYN Associates PC may need to reanalyze the sample to look for high-risk viruses.
If the cells appear to be precancerous, you’ll have further testing. If the cells are already cancerous, you’ll need immediate attention.
When your test is positive, the team at OB-GYN Associates PC might recommend an in-office colposcopy. During this procedure, an instrument called a colposcope magnifies the inside of your cervix for close examination. Your practitioner may take a biopsy for further testing.
If tests reveal cancerous or precancerous cells, your OB-GYN offers loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). During LEEP, your doctor uses a heated wire loop to remove abnormal cells, and, for your convenience, you can have your procedure completed in the office.
Don’t put off getting a routine Pap smear. Book your appointment online with the skilled practitioners at OB-GYN Associates. Or call the office for more details.