Pap smear testing is among the most impactful diagnostic tools in women’s health. At Oahu OB/GYN in Honolulu and Kapolei, Hawaii, Lynette W. Tsai, MD include Pap smear testing as part of routine well-woman exams. If you’re overdue for your annual exam or are looking for a new gynecologic home, book an appointment today by phone or online.
A Pap smear is the primary screening tool for cervical cancer and has revolutionized women’s health in just a few short decades. Prior to the widespread use of this simple-yet-effective screening tool, cervical cancer was a leading cause of death among women of childbearing age.
Today, thanks to early detection using Pap tests, cervical cancer deaths have dropped precipitously, and most cases receive treatment in the earliest stages. That’s why a Pap smear is part of routine well-woman care in America.
The process takes place during your pelvic exam at Oahu OB/GYN and is simple and straightforward. Once you’re resting on the exam table or chair with your feet held in stirrups, your doctor uses a speculum to gently separate your vaginal walls to access your cervix.
They use a small plastic spatula or brush to collect a small sample of cells from your cervix. Those cells go to a medical lab where technicians view them under a microscope. If the lab finds any cellular abnormalities, they notify your doctor, and they advise you on additional screening options.
The best thing about Pap smear testing is the ability to detect cellular changes in the precancerous stage. That means you can take action before cervical cancer even develops, which effectively prevents cancer from forming.
An abnormal test result is not uncommon and is nothing to panic about. Most abnormal results are due to issues with the testing process, like not getting enough cells to create a proper sample, or when menstrual blood obscures the results.
If your Pap smear comes back with an abnormal reading, your Oahu OB/GYN doctor discusses additional screening tools. An HPV test can determine if you have a strain of human papillomavirus linked to cervical cancer. This virus is known to cause most cases of cervical cancer, and there is now a vaccine available to protect you from infection.
Your doctor might recommend a procedure called a colposcopy, which uses a magnifying instrument that allows a closer examination of your cervix to check for abnormalities. A small sample of cells can be collected during this procedure for additional lab testing.
If you’re due for a well-woman exam and Pap smear screening, schedule a visit at Oahu OB/GYN today, online or over the phone.