A pap smear checks a woman’s cervical cells for abnormalities. If the woman doesn’t have a cervix, the test may be conducted on the cells of the vaginal wall. Cells are taken and then examined under a microscope.
The physician will request that the patient lay on the table with her feet in stirrups. The physician will place a speculum into the vagina to open it, and the cells are gently scraped from the cervix and sent to a lab for examination.
The test doesn’t hurt most patients. Sometimes, the patient may experience a slight amount of discomfort. For the women who do feel discomfort, the feeling is similar to mild menstrual cramps. It’s important for the woman to relax and not tense up because this can make the test worse.
Women who are 21 or older should have a Pap smear every three years. After a woman reaches the age of 30 and has had HPV testing done, she only needs to be tested every five years if she’s never had abnormal results. A majority of women who are over the age of 65 to 70 and who have had three negative tests within the last ten years don’t require Pap testing any longer.
Normal results indicate there aren’t any abnormal cells present. Abnormal results may reveal atypical cells, potentially cancerous cells, cells that need to be treated to prevent cancer or cells that are likely cancerous.
No, cancer isn’t always detected. Sometimes, in a small percentage of women, it’s missed.
Further testing is oftentimes needed, such as a colposcopy-directed biopsy, which takes a sample for more in-depth testing. HPV testing may be done to look for the HPV virus that has the tendency to cause certain types of cervical cancer.
At Bethany Medical Clinic, we accept most major medical insurance plans. Here is a short-list of just some of the most popular plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed below.
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