It’s rare in life that we’re given enough warning to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Such is the power of one simple test — the Pap smear.
A Pap test provides you the rare opportunity to screen for one of the most menacing health conditions that can strike a human — cancer. At Comprehensive Womens Center, we offer routine Pap tests to all of our patients in Miramar, Florida, to detect the potential and early signs of cervical cancer, even in its precancerous stages.
The following is a look at how a Pap test may save your life.
A look back
There was a time not too long ago — about 40-50 years — when cervical cancer was one of the deadliest cancers among women. Thanks to the Pap test, those numbers dropped an incredible 60% as doctors were able to identify precancerous and early cancer cells on the cervix through a simple swab.
Today, the American Cancer Society predicts that just over 4,000 women will die from cervical cancer in 2018, which is a number we can still bring down with regular Pap tests among all women.
A Pap smear is a painless screening tool — all we do is take a swab of your cervix to gather cells. Afterward, laboratory experts view the cells under a microscope to check for any abnormal cell changes.
If your test comes back showing the presence of abnormal cells, it’s no cause for immediate alarm. Abnormal cell changes usually mean that there’s a human papillomavirus (HPV), infection at play. This sexually transmitted infection is extremely common and most sexually active women get some form of the infection over the course of their lives.
Most of the time, and depending upon the type of HPV (there are over 100), your body is able to fight off the infection on its own. To make sure this is the case, we usually perform another Pap test three to six months after your first test to follow up.
If this second test still shows abnormal cell changes, we can take action to clear up the infection or investigate further with more testing or a colposcopy. By taking early action, we’re able to ensure that these abnormal cell changes don’t turn precancerous or cancerous.
In the unlikely event that further investigation turns up a cervical cancer diagnosis, the good news is that we’re catching the cancer early enough for effective treatment, all thanks to the Pap test.
Staying on track
In order to ensure your good health throughout your life, we recommend that all women between the ages of 21 and 65 undergo regular Pap tests during their wellness exams. Cervical cancer rarely strikes women under the age of 20, and most frequently develops in women between 35 and 44.
We also offer an HPV test, which we can use in conjunction with the Pap test to make sure we stay on top of your health.
If you’ve gone through menopause, we still like to perform these screenings, but perhaps not as often. And if you’ve had a hysterectomy where your cervix and uterus were removed, you likely don’t need ongoing Pap tests.
The key is to come in and see us, so we can review your medical history, your family’s medical history, and your current health. Once we have a clear picture of your situation, we can come up with a good screening schedule to help you stay on top of your health.
If you still have questions about the Pap test, please don’t hesitate to call us. Or you can schedule an appointment by using the booking tool found on this website.