Abortion Clinic & Family Planning Obstetrics & Gynecology located in East Brunswick, NJ
A Pap smear is an important screening test that detects precancerous cells in your cervix. Over the past few decades, as the Pap smear became a routine part of women’s preventive health care, the death rate from cervical cancer plummeted by more than 70%. The team of board-certified gynecologists at GYN Choices in East Brunswick, New Jersey, offer regular Pap test screenings as well as proficient treatment following abnormal results. To find out how the Pap test can help protect you from cervical cancer, call today.
Pap Smear Q & A
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a test that examines the cells in your cervix, or the lower part of your uterus, for abnormal changes. Pap smear tests are an indispensable tool in cervical cancer prevention because finding abnormal cells before they mutate into cancer cells can significantly increase your chances of avoiding or surviving cervical cancer.
When cervical cancer cells are detected early, the five-year survival rate is over 90%. When cervical cancer cells are detected before they’ve invaded any surrounding tissues, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%.
How is a Pap smear done?
A Pap smear is usually performed during a routine pelvic exam, as you’re lying on the exam table with your feet resting in supports.
Your gynecologist gently opens your vagina with a sterilized speculum so that your cervix is visible. Then, using a special, slender brush, they take a few cells from the tissues in and around your cervix.
While some patients do experience brief, mild discomfort during a Pap smear, the procedure isn’t painful, and it’s over quickly.
After collection, the cervical cells are placed on a slide for close examination under a microscope. To ensure accurate results and minimal wait time, the team at GYN Choices of Central Jersey examines all Pap test cells in their on-site lab.
How often do I need to have a Pap test?
Having regular Pap tests is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer. They’re recommended every three years for women between the ages of 21 and 65.
Starting at the age of 30, most women can choose between getting a Pap test every three years, or have a combined Pap/HPV test every five years.
If you’re at an increased risk for cervical cancer, you may be advised to have more frequent Pap tests. The two main reasons that women require additional screening include having a previous cervical cancer diagnosis or having abnormal Pap results that showed precancerous cells.
At what age can I stop having Pap tests?
Once you reach the age of 65, you may be able to stop having Pap tests as long as you don’t have a history of abnormal results or any other factors that increase your chances of developing cervical cancer.
You may also be able to stop having Pap tests if you've had a complete hysterectomy to treat a noncancerous condition. If your hysterectomy was done to address a precancerous or cancerous condition, however, your doctor will probably advise you to continue having regular Pap screenings.
To schedule your next Pap smear screening, call GYN Choices of Central Jersey today.