Pap smear is one of the common services offered by Fairfax, VA OBGYNs at Capital Women’s Care. It is a highly reliable screening procedure for cervical cancer. It basically involves testing for the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells in the cervix. During the procedure, a sample of cells from the cervix is obtained and examined for any signs of abnormal growth. The procedure is usually done at the OB/GYN’s office, and although it can cause some mild discomfort, it does not lead to serious, long term pain. Below is a discussion of some important things you should know about Pap smear.
Who Requires Pap Smears?
It is recommended that all women above the age of 21 should get a pap smear at least once every three years. However, some women may require more frequent tests. For instance, if you have a compromised immune system due to chemotherapy, organ transplant, or HIV infection, you may be a higher risk of infections and even cancer, and therefore, you may require more frequent visits to your OB/GYN for pap tests. If you are over 30 years old and you have never had an abnormal pat test result, you can talk to your OB/GYN about the possibility of getting less frequent pat tests, say once every five years. The tests can be done together with HPV screening since cervical cancer is associated with HPV.
When Can One Stop Going for Pap Smears?
In some cases, a woman and her OB/GYN may decide to end pap tests. For instance, after a total hysterectomy- surgical removal of the womb- pap tests may no longer be necessary, especially if the uterus is removed for non-cancerous issues. However, if the uterus is removed due to a cancerous or a precancerous condition, then you may have to continue with your routine pap smears.
Old age is another common reason why you may have to stop going for pap testing. Experts generally agree that women above the age of 65 may not require pap tests if their previous tests have been negative.
Are There Any Risks Involved?
Generally, Pap smear is a safe method of cervical cancer screening. However, the test is not foolproof. As such, it is not impossible for the test to lead to false-negative results. In other words, the tests can wrongly lead to the conclusion that you do not have an abnormal growth of cells. Factors that can lead to false results include an inadequate sample of cells, a small number of abnormal cells, and even inflammatory cells or blood obscuring the abnormal cells.
Overall, it is apparent that the importance of regular Pap smears to the overall women’s health cannot be overemphasized. A lot of women are at a high risk of developing cervical cancer, and therefore, it is imperative for them to be regularly screened, to ensure that any abnormal growth of cells in the cervix is detected early when it is still easy to manage cervical cancer. If you are looking for a reliable OB/GYN who offers a Pap smear in Fairfax, VA, Capital Women’s Care is an excellent women’s care facility to consider. Feel free to visit or contact them today for more information about their practitioners and the services that they offer.