Getting regular Pap smears helps screen for cervical cancer
Pap tests have been a screening tool for cervical cancer for many years. Our San Antonio OBGYNs once recommended that women have annual Pap smears. However, new recommendations require most women between the ages of 30 and 65 to now have this test and an HPV test (known as co-testing) every three to five years. Women should discuss the timing of their Pap and HPV tests with our San Antonio OBGYNs because each patient has unique needs.
Regular Pap smears help detect abnormalities in cervical cells
Our physicians collect cervical cells during a Pap smear and send them to a laboratory for examination. If the test indicates that there is abnormal cell growth, our San Antonio OBGYNs will order additional tests. These tests will determine whether there are high-grade cellular changes or cancer cells present in the cervix. Detected in the early stages, cervical cancer is very treatable. As a result, having Pap smears and HPV testing is a critical part of preventive healthcare.
What to expect during a Pap test
If a woman is due to have a Pap test during her annual well-woman exam, our physicians will perform the test at that time. The woman places her feet in stirrups at the bottom of the exam table. The doctor gently inserts a speculum into the vagina to reach the outside of the cervix. Once in place, the doctor collects the cervical cells to be sent to a lab for testing. Usually, a Pap smear and HPV testing takes place during the same exam. HPV testing involve taking cells from the cervix to look for the presence of DNA from the human papillomavirus.
Some women no longer need Pap smears
Most women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have a regular Pap smear, with the exception of women who have had their cervix removed during a hysterectomy and have not had abnormal Pap test results or a history of cervical cancer.
Patients should always discuss their testing needs with our physicians. Our experienced San Antonio OBGYNs are here to help women detect cervical cancer in its early, most treatable stages with regular cancer screening, including Pap smears and HPV testing. Contact us for an appointment.