Research proves that regular Pap tests are one of the most important tools for women to protect their gynecological and overall health. With routine Pap tests and early detection of cervical changes, a woman’s risk of cervical cancer drops significantly. At Capital Women’s Care in Rockville, Maryland, Dr. Anders Apgar and his team use Pap tests and other routine screenings to prevent severe complications and keep you active and healthy at every stage of life. To schedule your annual gynecological exam, call or book your appointment online today.
A Pap test, or Pap smear, is a procedure used to screen for abnormal cervical changes that may indicate cancer.
During a Pap test, your doctor inserts the speculum into your vagina before gently scraping cells from the cervix, the lowest part of your uterus or womb.
You may feel a slight pinch, but no pain. The procedure takes no more than a few seconds. The sample of cells is then sent off to the lab for examination. Within a few days, your doctor notifies you of the results.
Capital Women’s Care doctors recommend that most women begin Pap testing at age 21. If your Pap test is normal, you can most likely test every three years up until age 65.
Women who combine Pap tests with HPV screenings may test every five years. Combining Pap tests and HPV screenings is the best way to catch cervical abnormalities.
If you have specific risk factors, your doctor may order more frequent Pap tests regardless of your age. Those risk factors include:
After the age of 65, some women no longer need Pap tests. Your doctor will determine your needs based on your history of normal Pap tests.
A normal Pap test means no abnormal cells are present and you can continue your regular screening schedule.
An abnormal Pap test means atypical cells were detected. Abnormal results are grouped into different categories based on what types of cells are present.
After an abnormal Pap test, your doctor orders follow-up testing or treatment. During a colposcopy, your doctor uses a special instrument to examine your cervix, vagina, and vulva for disease and collect tissue samples for further testing.
Your doctor may also perform a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) to remove abnormal cells from your cervix. These procedures are done in the office and cause little to no discomfort. If precancerous cells are found, your doctor recommends a continued course of treatment.
Finding cervical cancer when it’s smaller and easier to treat is possible with regular Pap tests. Call the office or use the convenient online scheduling tool to book yours today.