Pap Smear….Have you had one lately?

Did you know that having a pap smear done every year isn’t necessary?

What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear (also called a Pap test) is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix, the opening of the uterus. It’s named after the doctor who determined that this was a useful way to detect signs of cervical cancer, Georgios Papanikolaou. During the procedure, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and then examined for abnormal growth.

If you are between ages 21 and 29, you should get a Pap test every 3 years. If you are between ages 30 and 64, you should get a Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test together every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. If you are 65 or older, ask your doctor if you can stop having Pap tests.

If you are HIV-positive or have a weakened immune system from chemotherapy or an organ transplant, you may need more frequent tests because of a higher risk of infections and cancer.

If you’re over 30 and have had three normal Pap tests in a row, ask your doctor about having one every five years if the test is combined with an HPV screening. Women over the age of 65 with a history of normal Pap test results may be able to stop having Pap smears in the future.

You should still get regular Pap smears even if you’re in a monogamous relationship. That’s because the HPV virus can be dormant for years, and then suddenly become active.

There are two possible results from a Pap smear: normal or abnormal. If your results are normal, you probably won’t need a Pap smear for another three years.

If the test results are abnormal, this doesn’t mean you have cancer. It simply means that there are abnormal cells on your cervix, some of which could be precancerous. Depending on what the test results show, your doctor may recommend increasing the frequency of your Pap smears, or getting a closer look at your cervical tissue with a procedure called colposcopy. This exam uses light and magnification to see vaginal and cervical tissues more clearly. In some cases, your doctor may also take a sample of your cervical tissue in a biopsy. Reference: (www.healthline.com)

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