While it usually takes five to ten years for changes in your cervical cells to become cancer, there have been cases that took as few as 3 years. Pap smears allow for early detection of cervical cell changes, and allows your OB/GYN provider to monitor the progression of abnormal cells. If it has been more than three years since your last Pap smear, call or make an appointment online today with Dr. Rafael Haciski at Advanced Gynecology in Naples, Florida.
A Pap smear is a procedure done during a routine pelvic exam that tests you for cervical cancer. Pap smears involve Dr. Haciski collecting cells from your cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of your uterus found at the top of your vagina.
As you lie on an exam table and place your feet in stirrups, Dr. Haciski uses a speculum to open your vagina for a clear view of your cervix and upper vagina. Dr. Haciski then scrapes cells from your cervix, places them in a special liquid, and sends them to a lab for testing.
It takes the lab a week or two to return results. Most of the time results from your Pap smear will come back normal; if they don’t, Dr. Haciski schedules additional testing.
The results of your current Pap smear, your previous history of Pap tests, and your risk factors for developing cervical cancer determine what further testing you receive. These tests include:
Abnormal Pap smear results get grouped as follows:
Regardless of the type of abnormal cells found, Dr. Haciski takes a conservative approach to treatment and won’t recommend surgery unless it’s the last option available. If you do require surgery, Dr. Haciski uses the most minimally invasive process.
Dr. Haciski recommends that all women older than 24 years to see him for an annual visit (earlier if they started sexual activity at an earlier age).
How often you need Pap testing depends on your history and needs. While the Pap smear may not be obtained at every visit, it’s exceedingly important that you maintain the annual visits to assess your risks and needs.
Equally importantly, there’s no reason for patients in their mid-productive years to reduce the frequency of Pat testing. The reduced immunological capability of the older woman makes it critical to continue the Pap smears well into menopause.
More importantly, stopping Pap smears after a hysterectomy is not in women’s best interest, as vaginal cancer may arise and be undetected without monitoring. Furthermore, those annual visits -- whether the Pap smear is done or not -- allow the gynecologist to assess other health issues and optimize the woman’s treatment to prevent other problems. Dr. Haciski serves as the primary care physician to approximately 30% of his patients.
To have a Pap smear to help rule out cervical cancer, call or make an appointment online today at Advanced Gynecology.