Screening and Prevention
The American Cancer Society recommends all women begin yearly exam with a Pap smear about three years after they become sexually active, but no later than age 21. During this exam a physician will screen for cervical cancer, breast cancer, and discuss reproductive and general health issues with each patient.
Early detection is the key to treating cancer. A Pap smear is performed at the annual exam and can reveal abnormal cells caused by infections such as (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease in this country. HPV can cause dysplasia (cells that look abnormal under a microscope but are not cancer) and increase a women's risk for developing cervical cancer. The frequency of Pap smear has been extended to two to three years depending on your age and the results.
New Guidelines Pertain to a New Type of Pap Smear
This new type is called liquid-based cytology, which appears to pick up high grade precancerous abnormalities better than the former glass slide Pap smear. A normal reading on this new Pap smear extends testing to every two years. In women over the age of 30, normal or negative readings for the new Pap smear combined with HPV (human papilloma virus) DNA testing extends subsequent testing to three years.
The Pap Smear Can Help Prevent Cervical Cancer by Detecting Early Signs of Cancer.
In most cases, patients should request the new liquid-based cytology Pap smear, which is quickly becoming the standard of care. The new test can also reveal abnormal cells caused by infections such as (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease in this country. HPV can cause dysplasia and increase a women's risk for developing cervical cancer.
Other women who may have a higher risk of cervical cancer include those who:
- do not get regular Pap smear
- became sexually active before age 16
- have had many sexual partners
- smoke cigarettes
Remember Your Annual Physical Exam
An increase in time between Pap smear testing may be recommended and considered safe; however, women need to continue their annual exam. Our providers check for a many things important to a woman’s health during an annual exam. The cervix should be examined every year to make a decision to postpone a Pap smear.