Before Pap smears became a routine part of the well-woman exam, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in women. Though it’s no longer necessary to get a Pap smear at every well-woman visit, it’s still an important cancer screening tool and can be a lifesaver. At Wellness for Women, Tracye Zlobl, MD, and the experienced team can talk to you about your Pap smear and how often you need the screening test. To schedule an appointment, contact the office in Naples, Florida by phone or through the online booking tool today.
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a cervical cancer screening test for women. During the test, your provider collects a sample of cells from your cervix and sends the cells out to a lab to look for abnormalities.
Finding cervical cancer early improves your body’s response to treatment and your chances of a full remission.
When do I need a Pap smear?
In the past, doctors recommended women undergo a Pap smear screening at every annual well-woman visit. However, new guidelines recommend individualized Pap smear screenings and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) testing based on your risk of developing cervical cancer.
At Wellness for Women, the women’s health experts recommend Pap smears based on age, risk factors, results of testing, and gynecological history:
- Age 21 and younger: No Pap smear
- Ages 21-29: Pap smear every three years and HPV testing pending results of Pap test
- Ages 30-70: Pap smear and HPV test every 3-5 years, or Pap smear only every 3 years
- Age 70 and over: No Pap smear needed, unless history of abnormal Pap test
- After a hysterectomy: No Pap smear if history of negative HPV and Pap testing
However, you may need more frequent Pap smear screenings if you have a history of an abnormal Pap smear, personal or family history of cervical cancer, HIV, or a weakened immune system.
What happens during a Pap smear?
Your Pap smear may be conducted during your well-woman exam. During the screening test, your provider inserts a speculum into your vagina to separate the walls and improve the visibility of your cervix.
Then, with a soft brush or scraping tool, your provider takes a sample of cells from your cervix. The cells are placed in a tube, sealed and labeled, and sent to the lab for testing.
How long does it take to get results from a Pap smear?
The team at Wellness for Women provides specific details about when you can expect to get the results of your Pap smear. If your Pap smear results are negative, that means no abnormalities were found.
If your Pap smear results are abnormal, it does not necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. Your provider requests that you return to the office for a colposcopy, which is an in-office procedure that allows them to carefully examine your cervical tissue and take additional tissue samples for testing.
A Pap smear can save your life. Contact Wellness for Women by phone or use the online booking tool to schedule your screening.