Pap smears effectively detect early precancerous changes in cervical cells, but only when you get a Pap smear on a regular basis. Dr. Gladys Dupuy at Orchid OB/GYN encourages women to protect their health with routine Pap smears because cervical cancer is highly treatable when found at an early stage. If you haven’t had a Pap smear in the last three years, call the office in Miramar, Florida or use the online booking feature to schedule a pelvic exam.
Pap smears screen for cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). In most cases, you don’t need to worry about the cancer-causing types of HPV. Your body’s immune system eliminates most HPV infections within two years.
In some women, however, the HPV virus isn’t cleared away. Over time, it can invade cells in your cervix, where it causes abnormal cell growth. The affected cells become precancerous, then gradually turn into cervical cancer.
Most women should have their first Pap smear at the age of 21, then follow this schedule:
Dr. Dupuy may recommend more frequent Pap smears if you have a higher risk for cervical cancer.
Pap smears are performed by removing a small sample of cells from your cervix, then sending them to a lab for analysis. Your Pap smear is negative when all the cells are normal.
Any abnormal cells in the sample are graded according to their severity, ranging from cells that are slightly abnormal but may not be associated with HPV, to cells that are potentially cancerous. The grade determines the next step.
You may need to have an HPV test or a repeat Pap test in three to six months. When Pap results are moderate to severe, or when mild changes don’t improve over a few months, Dr. Dupuy performs a colposcopy.
A colposcopy is a noninvasive procedure in which Dr. Dupuy uses a binocular-type device — a colposcope — that provides a magnified view of your cervix. Colposcopy makes it possible to see inflammation and cellular changes and allows the doctor to perform a biopsy to verify the diagnosis.
After a colposcopy or biopsy verifies the need for treatment, Dr. Dupuy may perform one of the following procedures:
Cervical cancer is curable when Dr. Dupuy detects it at an early stage, so please call or book an appointment online if you’re due for a gynecological exam or Pap smear.