When it comes to treating cervical cancer, early detection, and intervention is key. At Hawaii Women’s Healthcare in Honolulu, a dedicated team of doctors will look for any abnormalities in your cervix with a quick and painless Pap smear. Call or book an appointment online today to learn more about the women’s health services at Hawaii Women’s Healthcare.
A Pap smear is a quick procedure that screens for abnormalities in your cervix that may indicate the presence of cancer. It is not a cervical cancer test, but the procedure does tell your doctor if something seems off.
Should your test results show the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells, further testing, such as a colposcopy or biopsy, will be done to determine whether or not you have cervical cancer.
Sexually active women above the age of 21 are advised to go in for a Pap smear about once every three years to screen for abnormalities, such as cervical cancer.
Pap smears can also be combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease that increases your risk of developing certain cancers, including cervical cancer.
According to some research, 70 percent of cervical cancers are caused by two types of HPV, HPV 16 and HPV 18.
Often combined with a pelvic exam, your Pap smear is painless and should only take about 10 to 20 minutes.
Once you are brought into the exam room, you will lie down on the table and place your feet in metal stirrups.
Your doctor then inserts a speculum, a metal or plastic medical tool, into your vagina to widen your vaginal walls.
Next, your doctor takes a swab of your cervix and sends the cells off to the lab for testing.
You should receive your results in a few days, and if they come back as abnormal, your doctor will talk to you about your next steps, which may include further testing, such as a colposcopy — a very close examination of your cervix.
In addition to regular Pap smears, the most important step you can take to prevent cervical cancer is getting the HPV vaccine, which must be done in three separate visits, over the course of six months.
The vaccine can help protect against several dangerous strains of HPV, and it’s best to go in for your first shot during adolescence, around the age of 12.
Call Hawaii Women’s Healthcare today or book an appointment online to learn more about the importance of Pap smears.