Pap smears are an essential part of a gynecology exam and are critical to maintaining optimal health and wellness. These simple and effective tests screen for signs of cervical cancer and help detect cancer in the early stages when treatment is most effective. Dr. Wilkens Mondesir offers Pap smear screening as part of your comprehensive well-woman exam and urges you to schedule regular visits to stay as healthy as possible. If you live in or around Greenacres, Florida, make an appointment today using the online tool.
A Pap smear is a screening tool to detect signs of cervical cancer. It’s named after Dr. Georgios Papanikolaou, who pioneered the test.
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 13,000 American women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year alone, and more than 4,000 will die from the disease. When caught early, treatment outcomes for cervical cancer are very promising.
A Pap smear detects not only cancerous cervical cells but also precancerous cells. That provides plenty of information for making treatment decisions.
Most cervical cancers are caused by infection of human papillomavirus (HPV,) an incredibly common sexually transmitted disease. During your next appointment, ask Dr. Mondesir about whether the HPV vaccine is right for you.
Young women don't need a Pap smear before they are sexually active. Women over the age of 21 should have a Pap smear every three years.
Once you reach the age of 30 and have a history of normal Pap test results, you may be able to have the screening every five years. After the age of 65, you may be able to cease screening.
Some women should have a Pap smear more frequently, including those with HIV or with a weakened immune system. A history of cancer may also indicate a need for more frequent screening.
It's essential to note that Pap smears are advisable even if you’re in a monogamous relationship. The HPV virus can lie dormant for many years before becoming active, so screening is always the right choice.
The procedure is quick, and should not be painful. You’ll recline on the exam table with your feet resting in cupped supports, which positions your body to allow your doctor to complete the test.
Dr. Mondesir gently inserts a device called a speculum into your vagina, which keeps your vaginal walls open and allows him to access your cervix. He uses a special tool to collect a small sample of cervical cells.
This process can cause a very brief cramping sensation. Some women report barely feeling anything during the test, while others compare the experience to a very brief menstrual cramp.
Dr. Mondesir sends the collected cells to a lab, where technicians study them under a microscope for signs of cancer or precancerous abnormalities. If your results are normal, you're notified, and there’s no need to return until your regularly scheduled appointment.