A Pap smear is a routine screening tool used to detect abnormal cellular activity in your cervical tissues. The team at Women's Health Services in Arlington, Texas, provides Pap smear testing as part of a comprehensive pelvic exam. If you’re overdue for a Pap smear and would like to book an appointment, call the practice to speak with a member of the administrative staff. You can also book any time of day or night using the easy online scheduling tool.
A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a screening tool used to detect signs of cervical cancer. These tests are a routine part of comprehensive women’s health services and are the leading reason why cervical cancer deaths have declined so precipitously in recent decades.
Pap smear testing is relatively simple and straightforward. The screening can detect abnormal cellular activity in the precancerous stage, which allows your medical team to intervene before cervical cancer develops.
Prior to the widespread use of Pap smear screening, many women died from cervical cancer. This form of cancer is often asymptomatic until the late stages. By the time many women knew they had cervical cancer the disease had progressed to a stage where treatment was ineffective.
A Pap smear is usually performed during a pelvic exam. Once you’re comfortably reclined on the examination table or chair, your practitioner uses a speculum to gently separate your vaginal walls, allowing access to your cervix.
A thin spatula or brush is used to gather a small sample of cells from your cervix. You might feel a brief cramping sensation during this part of the process, but there’s no significant pain. Many women aren’t even aware the cells are being collected.
Those cells are sent to a lab where a technician examines them under a microscope. If any abnormalities are noted, that information is sent to your doctor, and you’ll be asked to return for more in-depth screening.
A colposcopy is often the next step after an abnormal Pap result. This procedure involves using an external device to provide a magnified view of your cervix and surrounding tissues. If any areas of concern are noted, a small tissue biopsy is performed to gather more information.
Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the leading cause of cervical cancer. A sexually transmitted virus, HPV often shows no signs or symptoms.
Combining HPV screening with a Pap smear not only gives your doctor information about the potential presence of cancerous cells, but it also determines if you have the virus that triggers those cellular changes. A positive result can lead to more in-depth screening or more frequent screening visits. Also, if you test positive for HPV, you can take steps to protect sexual partners, as the virus can also cause numerous other cancers.
Pap smear testing has revolutionized women’s cancer treatment and dramatically improved cervical cancer survival rates. To explore these screening options in greater detail, schedule an appointment today, online or by phone.