Cervical cancer doesn’t cause any warning signs in its early stages, and the only way to get a diagnosis and treatment is to have a routine Pap smear to test for abnormal cells. At DWH Medical Center in Allentown and Quakertown, Pennsylvania, Danny Hernandez, MD, CIME, offers women’s health services that include Pap smears to protect and preserve your health. If you’re due for a Pap smear or well-woman exam, call the practice or schedule an appointment online today.
A Pap smear, or Pap test, is a standard women’s health screening that checks for abnormal cells on your cervix. Dr. Hernandez can identify precancerous cells, cancer cells, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) with a Pap smear. Pap smears are usually performed during your annual well-woman exam.
Like many other types of cancer, cervical cancer is asymptomatic during its early and more treatable stages. A Pap smear helps Dr. Hernandez diagnose the condition before you ever experience symptoms or feel unwell. In many cases, when abnormal cervical cells are found early enough, they can be removed with a simple cryotherapy treatment or a loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP).
A Pap smear only takes a few minutes. You undress and wear a gown with a sheet over your legs. You recline on a treatment table and put your feet in stirrups.
Dr. Hernandez inserts a speculum into your vagina. A speculum is a device that holds your vaginal walls open so Dr. Hernandez can see your cervix.
Then, using a long thin brush that resembles a mascara wand, he rubs it against your cervix to collect a cell sample. He sends the sample to a lab where it’s tested for abnormal cells.
Women should have their first Pap smear when they become sexually active or when they turn 21 years old. From the time you start to have Pap smears until the age of 65, you should have a Pap smear every three years. If you’re over the age of 30, you can have a Pap smear every five years if it’s combined with HPV testing.
First, if you have an abnormal Pap smear result, don’t panic. Approximately a quarter of Pap tests are abnormal, usually because of benign conditions like inflammation.
However, if your Pap smear has an abnormal result, you may need an additional Pap test or a colposcopy. A colposcopy is a noninvasive diagnostic test that allows Dr. Hernandez to examine your cervix in more detail.
If you need a Pap smear, call DWH Medical Center or book an appointment online today.