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Pap Smear

Pap Smear

A Pap smear, or Pap test, is designed to check for changes in the cells of a woman’s cervix.  The test will help determine a few things including if an infection is present, will help detect cervical cancer, and can help determine abnormal cervical cells.  The chances of curing cervical cancer in a woman can increase if the cancer is detected early. Abnormal cells and other infections can also turn into cancer cells, but can be treated if it is seen early enough by a doctor providing a Pap test. 
All women over the age of 21 should have a Pap smear along with pelvic exams as part of their routine checkup.  The test should be taken every two years for women over 21.  Women over the age of 30 that have had 3 normal Pap tests administered for three consecutive years should talk to their doctors about a less frequent testing schedule.  It is highly recommended that women that have gone through menopause receive Pap smear tests.  Women that are 65 years old and older should talk to their doctor about the frequency, and possible elimination, of Pap tests. 

Preparing for a Pap Smear

In order to get an accurate reading from your Pap test, it is important for a woman to avoid the following up to 48 hours before the test:

  • Douching
  • Using tampons
  • Using vaginal creams
  • Using vaginal deodorants
  • Having sex

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control.  This type of cancer can often be successfully treated if it is detected early.  In addition to getting regular Pap tests, the best way to avoid cervical cancer is to stay away from human papillomavirus (HPV).  HPV is a common form of sexually transmitted infections (STI).  The chances of getting cervical cancer are increased if a woman:

  • Starts having sex before the age of 18.
  • Has many sex partners (with those partners having many sex partners).
  • Has or has had an STI.

Abnormal Pap Smear

There are many reasons why a Pap test would come back abnormally.  Sometimes the tests will come back inconclusive and will need to be administered again.  If the tests detect serious changes in the cells a woman’s cervix, the doctor may want to administer more powerful tests.  The results of these tests will help the medical staff know which direction to go to treat the specific problem.  These tests include:

  • Colposcopy
  • Endocervical curettage
  • Biopsy

If you would like to learn more about the women’s services provided at The Longstreet Clinic or if you have questions about Pap smear tests and other procedures we perform, please contact us today at (770) 297-2200.