A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of your vagina. If the results of your Pap test come back positive, that means that your doctor found abnormal or unusual cells on your cervix. It doesn’t mean that you have cervical cancer. Most often, the abnormal test result means there have been cell changes caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
What is a Pap Smear
A Pap smear test is a procedure that your gynecologist in Queens, NYC performs in conjunction with a pelvic exam during some of your routine, annual OB/GYN exam. In women older than age 30, the Pap test may be combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV) — a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. In some cases, the HPV test may be done instead of a Pap smear.
Pap Smear: Abnormal Cells
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. Another important thing to consider: in addition to finding malignant cells in an abnormal Pap smear, precancerous cells also are discovered, that way the proper treatment can start before cancer even has a chance to form.
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.
Who Should Have a Pap smear?
You and your doctor can decide when it’s time for you to begin Pap testing and how often you should have the test. In general, doctors recommend beginning Pap testing at age 21.
How Often Should I Have the Pap Smear?
|< 21 years old, not sexually active, no known risk factors||None needed|
|<21 years old, sexually active||Every 3 years|
|21-29 years old||Every 3 years|
|30-65 years old||Every 3-5 years if your Pap smear and HPV tests are negative|
|65 years and older||You may no longer need pap smear tests; talk to your doctor to determine your needs|
|Any age and you had a full hysterectomy||None needed|
How Should I Prepare For a Pap Smear?
Here is what you should to make sure that your pap smear results are accurate and to minimize any false positive findings: Let your doctor know if you’re menstruating because it may affect your results. He might ask you to reschedule
- Don’t douche, have sex or use birth control foams two to three days before your appointment.
- 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.
What to Expect from a Pap Smear Test
Pap smears can be a bit uncomfortable, but the good news is that the test is very quick. Your gynecologist will insert a device called a speculum to hold the walls of your vagina so that he can easily see your cervix. Inserting the speculum may cause a sensation of pressure in your pelvic area. Then your doctor will take some tissue samples from your cervix and send it to the lab for testing.
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 and anal warts.
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. Your Forest Hills, Queens OB/GYN will decide 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 the 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
Forest Hills Medical Services is a comprehensive clinical practice. In our office we believe that how you are treated is just as important as the medical care we provide. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality obstetrics and gynecology with warmth and compassion. Our physicians are easy to talk to and our entire staff is friendly and attentive to your needs.
The best gynecologists in Queens who are part of the Forest Hills Medical Services team are renowned for their extensive skills in diagnosing and treating all the possible conditions that can lead to an abnormal pap smear.
We will listen to all your concerns and together we will come up with the treatment plan that works for you and your unique circumstances.
Call FHMS to meet our staff in our state-of-the-art offices and be heard.
Gynecologists Dr. James Gohar (OBGYN Doctor), Dr Nithya Gopal and Maris Huffman, NP
Forest Hills Medical Services
108-16 63rd Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
☎ (718) 897-5331