A Quick Guide to Pap smears and Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention
Charles Celestine, MD
CentraState Women’s Health Specialists
No matter how old you are, when your gynecologist reports that you have a “bad” illness, you are overwhelmed by feelings of fear and insecurity. But how bad is the news? It depends.
Before you start panicking, it’s important to understand what actually happens when you have an abnormal result after PAP, a screening used to diagnose cervical cancer.
What does it mean if you have “bad” dads?
Your obstetrician will use a Pap smear (or Pap test) as a screening tool to collect cell samples from the cervix. It is then sent to a lab for further analysis to determine the presence of any cancer or precancerous cells or the human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer. The doctor also takes the opportunity to look for any visible changes in the cervix after the last examination or analysis.
If you have “bad” Pap smears, your doctor is referring to results that indicate the presence of HPV or cancer or precancerous cells.
The results of long-term examinations over time help us determine the next course of action to protect you and your cervix.
In most cases, HPV infection goes away on its own without any signs, symptoms or health effects in the long run. Papanicolaou smears, which constantly detect the presence of bad cells, however, indicate that further monitoring, additional tests, and treatment may be needed depending on your age and other potential risk factors.
What are the alarming signs of HPV or cervical cancer?
Most often HPV or the presence of precancerous cells in the cervix is detected only by the results of an annual Pap smear; however, pain or bleeding after intercourse may also indicate problems with the cervix.
Does HPV automatically cause cervical cancer?
The good news is that the presence of HPV alone does not put you on a course to diagnose cervical cancer.
Of the millions of women who become infected with HPV each year, few end up suffering from cervical cancer. In fact, there are over 100 different strains of HPV. Of these, 14 can potentially cause cancer, and only two of them account for 70% of all cervical cancers.
However, the longer the presence of these cells, the higher the risk that precancer may develop into cancer.
However, note that women with impaired immune systems and women who smoke have a harder time suppressing the virus and are therefore at greater risk of developing cervical cancer.
Prevention and treatment
The best way to prevent HPV and therefore cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against it. Both girls and boys are encouraged to get their first vaccine between the ages of 11 and 12. Health insurance usually covers the vaccine under the age of 26, but it can be given to women of any age.
Because screenings are often the first line of defense against cervical cancer, the next best thing for a vaccine is to keep up with annual obstetric screenings, get tested regularly, and follow your doctor’s orders for additional tests if and when you get a “bad” test. the result.
Charles Celestine, MD, Ph.D. CentraState Women’s Health Specialists in East Windsor. She is certified in obstetrics and gynecology.