Pap Smear Screenings Save Lives
Thanks to the Pap test’s ability to detect cancer cells and signs of abnormal cells early, most cases of cervical cancer diagnosed today can be prevented or treated. Women who do not receive regular Pap tests are at an increased risk of developing and succumbing to cervical cancer.
Who Is at Risk of Cervical Cancer?
Every woman has a small chance of developing cervical cancer. Certain factors, however, can increase a woman’s risk, such as:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Contracting a sexually transmitted disease as a teenager
- Becoming sexually active before the age of 16
What Is a Pap Smear?
A Pap smear is a diagnostic test used to screen women for cervical cancer. During a Pap smear, a doctor takes a swab of cells from the patient’s cervix (the lower part of the uterus). These cells are then examined in a laboratory for signs of abnormal cells or cancer cells.
Pap Test Guidelines
Patients should work with their doctors to determine how often they should have a Pap test. Guidelines from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend:
- Women begin screening for cervical cancer at age 21.
- From 21 to 29, women have a Pap test every other year.
- Patients 30 years or older who have had three consecutive, negative Pap tests be tested every three years.
If you have an increased risk for developing cervical cancer, then your doctor might recommend a more frequent screening schedule.