Cervical cancer was the top cause of cancer deaths in American women before Pap smears became part of routine preventive health care. Dunwoody OB/GYN, LLC, in Dunwoody, Georgia, provides Pap smears and comprehensive follow-up care based on your Pap smear results. If it’s time to schedule your Pap smear, call the office or reserve an appointment using the online scheduler.
Pap smears are done to screen for cervical cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that’s spread through sexual contact with an infected person, can cause cervical cancer.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. In many cases, your immune system can keep the virus under control, so you don’t experience problems. In some women, however, the HPV virus infects cells in their cervix and causes abnormal cellular growth.
HPV-affected cells gradually become precancerous. If these cells aren’t detected with a Pap smear and removed, they can develop into cervical cancer.
All women should have a Pap smear at the age of 21, then have a follow-up screening at least once every three years until they reach the age of 29. From the ages of 30 to 65 years, you may have the option of getting a Pap smear or HPV testing. Your doctor at Dunwoody OB/GYN, LLC, may also recommend more frequent screening if you have a high risk for cervical cancer.
When you get a Pap smear, your doctor at Dunwoody OB/GYN, LLC, swabs a sample from your cervix and sends it to a lab. At the lab, specialists examine all the cells from your sample and submit a report to your doctor.
If abnormal, your diagnostic report may find one of the following:
If your results show slight or mild abnormalities, your doctor may recommend an HPV test or a repeat Pap smear in about 3-6 months. The follow-up test will allow your doctor to see if the infection clears away.
If your results are moderate to severe, or if mild changes don’t improve in several months, your doctor at Dunwoody OB/GYN, LLC, will perform a colposcopy.
A colposcopy takes place in the office using an instrument placed outside your vagina that gives your doctor a magnified view of your vagina and cervix. After swabbing a solution on your cervix that highlights abnormal cells, your doctor carefully examines your vaginal and cervical tissues.
If they identify abnormal cells, your doctor removes all the cells using a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and sends them to the lab for evaluation under a microscope.
Even if the lab reports that the cells were cancerous, in many cases, the LEEP procedure eliminates the malignant cells so you won’t need further treatment.
If you have questions about a Pap smear, call Dunwoody OB/GYN, LLC, or schedule an appointment online.