Pap smears are one of the most essential tests we do as part of our well woman exams. When a patient’s pap smear test shows positive for abnormal cells, we perform follow-up tests to confirm if those abnormal cells are precancerous or benign.
What is a pap smear?
A pap smear is the most common way to test for early signs of cervical cancer and is usually performed during a pelvic exam. During a pap smear, we gently scrape cells from your cervix to test them in a lab.
When to get a pap smear
We recommend a pap smear test every three years after age 21. For women with a weakened immune system, history of smoking, confirmed HIV infection, or an earlier cervical cancer diagnosis, we recommend more frequent pap smears. Women who’ve had non-cancer related hysterectomies and those over 65 no longer need pap smears.
We can remove abnormal cells for further testing using a LEEP procedure (loop electrosurgical excision procedure). During the procedure, we apply a local anesthetic to your cervix, then a small electrical wire loop is used to remove a layer of cells. This procedure takes 10-15 minutes and recovery can take several days.
A colposcopy procedure allows us to better examine your cervix after abnormal results and is often done before moving to a LEEP procedure. It’s similar to a pap smear but uses a microscope to more closely view the walls of your cervix before taking a biopsy.
Contact us today!
False positives do occur, so we always do follow-up tests for patients when abnormal cells are found. Sometimes false negatives can occur, which is why regular pap smear tests are so important. Contact us to schedule your pap smear.