When irregular cells are treated and cured before they develop into cancer, most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented. Regular Pap smears screen for abnormal cells that may indicate cervical cancer. At Palo Alto Women’s Health Center, board-certified OB/GYN Lydia Appiah-Dwamena offers Pap smears and any necessary follow-up to women in San Antonio. Get on a regular schedule of testing. Call the office or book online today.
A Pap smear is a minimally invasive screening test that evaluates you for irregular cells and potential risk of cervical cancer. Usually, you undergo a Pap smear during your well-woman pelvic exam. Dr. Appiah-Dwamena uses a swab to collect a small sample of cells from your cervix. During the smear, you feel a little pressure, but the procedure doesn’t hurt.
The cells are sent to a lab for analysis. The administrative team at the office contacts you about the results within 3-7 days.
You should have your first Pap smear around age 21. After that, you should plan one every three years. Women who are 30-65 may move to a schedule of every five years if screening is combined with testing for human papillomavirus -- the major cause of irregular cervical cells.
If you have a history of cervical cancer or a family history of the disease, you may opt for a more frequent schedule. Talk to Dr. Appiah-Dwamena about what’s most appropriate for you.
An abnormal Pap test is not a diagnosis of cancer. Your Pap smear may be declared “abnormal” due to:
But an abnormal Pap smear shouldn’t be ignored. It can indicate irregular, precancerous cells.
Dr. Appiah-Dwamena may recommend you have a repeat Pap test within a few weeks if your first one comes back as “abnormal.” Often the abnormal cells disappear all by themselves.
Additional diagnostic tests can help the doctor determine the reason for your abnormal results. A colposcopy is a screening test that uses a special magnifying lens to get a better look at cervical cells. Dr. Appiah-Dwamena may take a small sample of the cells – a biopsy – during this exam.
If your abnormal Pap smear results do reveal precancer or cancer, you’ll undergo a procedure to have them excised. LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) and freezing are ways to remove the cells.
Protect your cervical healthy by scheduling a Pap smear. Call Palo Alto Women’s Health Center or book online right away.