A Pap smear (or Pap test), is a routine exam that checks for changes in the cells of the cervix. Pap smears are the best tool to identify abnormal, pre-cancerous or cancerous cells and provide immediate and effective treatment. We now understand that abnormal cervical cells are related to the HPV virus. There are over 100 strains of HPV. Virtually all sexually active women will be exposed to HPV but most clear the virus on their own. Pap smear recommendations should be closely aligned with sexual history and number of partners not just age.
The number of cases of invasive cervical cancer in this country has fallen dramatically over the last 60 years mainly because of the Pap smear. The painless test is completed during the patient’s routine pelvic exam.
There has been much attention recently to the changes in guidelines for how often women should receive a Pap smear. New guidelines state that women should get their first Pap test at age 21 and have one every two years. Dr. Goldstein, however, continues to advocate for and perform Pap smears every year for his patients. He feels strongly that the benefit of a Pap smear – catching and preventing cervical cancer’s continued growth – deserves an annual test.
Patients hesitant to come in for an annual pap smear should keep in mind that is not the only reason to be seen by an OB/GYN on a regular basis. The annual appointment provides the opportunity for a pelvic exam, breast exam, blood pressure check and discuss concerns about bone health, vaginal health, contraception and menstrual function. A transvaginal ultrasound evaluation of ovaries and uterus may also be helpful.
Women who receive word that their annual pap smear results have come back with an abnormality should not jump to the worst possible conclusion. An abnormal result signifies a change in cervical cells, which can be caused by infection, inflammation, changes to your menstrual cycle, or in some cases pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. Dr. Goldstein will work with you to determine if further testing is needed. Additional testing to identify the abnormality includes:
If additional testing determines treatment of the abnormal cells is needed, Dr. Goldstein may recommend one of the following options:
Dr. Goldstein will review these non-invasive treatment options, and others, as best suited to your needs. He is dedicated to working with women to identify and treat abnormal cervical cells before aggressive treatment is needed.appointment request
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