A Pap smear test checks for early signs of cervical cancer. If you have an abnormal Pap smear, that means you’ve tested positive for HPV, the human papillomavirus. If you have HPV, abnormal Pap smear results confirm it. When you have a Pap smear, abnormal cells are discovered, which alerts your gynecologist. Even if you have an abnormal Pap smear, HPV isn’t life-threatening unless cancerous.
Abnormal Pap Smear
A Pap smear test is a procedure that your gynecologist in Queens, NYC performs during some of your routine, annual OB/GYN exams. The main issue the Pap smear test solves is whether your cervix is healthy and free of abnormal cells that could indicate a form of cancer.
Your cervix sits in the lower part of your uterus and opens in the top of your vagina. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer used to be the most common form of cancer among women. But due to the recommendations of the OB/GYN community and the prevalent use of Pap smears to catch early signs of the disease, the number of women who die from the disease has been cut nearly in half.
Pap Smear: Abnormal Cells
In 2017, more than 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer have been diagnosed, leading to around 4,000 deaths, about a third of all new cases. In addition to finding malignant cells in an abnormal Pap smear, precancerous cells also are discovered, leading to treatment before cancer even has a chance to form.
The Pap smear is the single biggest step you can take to prevent all forms of cervical cancer. Taking measures to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the second most important step you can take to prevent cervical cancer. In addition to regular screening during your pelvic exam, getting vaccinated to prevent abnormal Pap smear HPV results is an important step to take to prevent cervical cancer.
Pap’s Humble Beginnings
The life-saving test was first invented by Greek physician Georgios Papanikolaou in the 1940s. Dr. Papanikolaou first realized that he could diagnose early stages of uterine cancer by spreading the cells on a piece of paper and viewing them under a microscope as early as 1928. His findings were finally validated nearly a decade later, after which he published his discoveries.
The “Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by the Vaginal Smear” was published in 1943. Ever since that time, the test you receive from your Forest Hills, New York OB/GYN is still referred to by his name. The Pap smear or Pap test is the universal gold standard for diagnosing cervical cancer if abnormal Pap smear results are discovered.
What to Expect from a Pap Smear Test
The test is performed to exfoliate cells from your cervix to afford further examination. During your annual exam with your gynecologist, you’ll get accustomed to lying back on a table and putting your feet in stirrups to open your vagina for inspection. To gather the tissue sample, your OB/GYN gently places an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to spread it open slightly. Then another instrument is inserted to scrape away a few cells.
Those cells then are placed in a dish and sent to the lab for testing. The Pap smear test causes little to no discomfort and is over in minutes. You may feel a little pressure during the exam and in rare cases, experience slight bleeding after a Pap smear.
Make It Part of Your Routine
Typically, you should start getting Pap smear tests when you turn 21, although you should start developing a relationship with your Queens, New York OB/GYN as early as 15 years of age and certainly start getting examined when you become sexually active. If you are older than 30, you also can be tested for HPV, which also can cause genital warts.
By the time you turn 65, you can stop having Pap smear tests. And you don’t need the screening exam if you’ve had your cervix and uterus removed in a total hysterectomy.
Abnormal Pap Smear Results
The Pap smear test is not 100 percent accurate, and in rare cases, early cervical cancer cells can be missed. Fortunately, though, cervical cancer is a slow-growing disease and the abnormal cells will most likely appear on your next test. It’s up to your Rego Park, Queens gyno how often you need to undergo the test.
Abnormal Pap smear results don’t automatically mean you have cancer. You may have HPV, unknown atypical cells or precancerous lesions. When results are abnormal, further testing is needed and could include:
- Cone biopsy
- HPV test for signs of the type of HPV that leads to cancer
- Cervix cryosurgery
Preparing for Your Pap Smear Test
Taking certain steps that the best gynecologist in Queens explains to you prior to the test can help prevent getting abnormal Pap smear results. Steps include:
- Don’t schedule your Pap smear test during your period.
- As a general rule, try to schedule your test five days after the last day of your period.
- Don’t use tampons two to three days before your test.
- If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor first about the best time to get the test.
- Tell your doctor if you have any type of infection.
- If you’re on any medication for an infection, wait at least two weeks for the medication to clear your system completely before you have a Pap smear.
- Don’t douche, have sex or use birth control foams two to three days before your appointment.
When you build a relationship with a top Forest Hills, New York OB/GYN, a Pap smear and HPV testing are easier and less stressful. You can rely on a caring physician who takes the time to listen to your fear and understand your concerns.
As a best in class Queens gynecologist, Dr. James Gohar provides highly personalized and comprehensive care. His philosophy regarding the doctor/patient relationship is based on trust and has earned him one of the most respected reputations in Queens NY.
For more information about the Abnormal Pap Smear treatment options or to schedule a consultation with the (gynecologist) OBGYN doctor, the best rated Abnormal Pap Smear specialist, Dr. James Gohar, please contact our Queens office.
Gynecologist Dr. James Gohar (OBGYN Doctor)
Forest Hills Medical Services
108-16 63rd Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
☎ (718) 897-5331