Our Round Rock obgyns perform the Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer
Although it’s no longer a part of the annual well woman visit for most women, the Pap smear continues to be an important tool for cervical cancer screening. The test detects changes in cervical cells which may indicate cancer or the presence of pre-cancer, which is when there are abnormal cells that could become cervical cancer if left untreated.
Current guidelines from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
While our Round Rock obgyns follow the ACOG Pap smear guidelines for most patients, they always make decisions about testing and treatment based on a patient’s individual needs and health history.
Current guidelines suggest:
- Women ages 21 to 65 should be tested every three years.
- Women ages 30 to 65 should receive co-testing, which means a Pap smear as well as a test for HPV, or human papillomavirus, every five years. If you and your physician choose a Pap smear only, then it must be performed every three years.
- If you are 65 or over, and you have had two negative co-testing results or three negative Pap smear results consecutively over the last 10 years, with the most recent test being performed in the past five years, you may no longer need a Pap smear.
- If you have HIV, DES exposure before your birth, a weakened immune system, a previous test that indicated a pre-cancer, or a previous diagnosis of cervical cancer, you may require a Pap smear more often than other women.
The Pap smear procedure
A Pap smear is a simple and quick test that is usually performed during a pelvic exam. One of our Round Rock obgyns will gently insert a speculum to separate the vaginal walls and use a swab to obtain a sample of your cervical cells.
Before you have a Pap smear, please follow these guidelines to help us obtain the best results.
- Try not to schedule your test when you are menstruating.
- Please avoid the following for two days before the test: sex; tampons; birth control foam, jelly or creams; and vaginal medication and douching, which we do not recommend at any time.
After we obtain the sample, we send it to an outside laboratory where it is analyzed for abnormal cells.
Don’t be overly concerned if your Pap smear test results are abnormal. This does not always point to cervical cancer—the test could mean you have other cervical problems, treatable pre-cancer or a false positive. Our Round Rock obgyns will determine the next steps to take.
If you’re looking for excellent well woman care or experiencing symptoms that may require a Pap smear, contact us for an appointment.