Pap Smear in Trenton, MI
What Does a Pap Smear Test?
To better understand why it’s not necessary to have an annual pap smear, it’s important to know exactly what the doctor is looking for during the exam. A pap test checks the cervix, the lower part of the uterus, for abnormal cell changes. Cells can change and, if they aren’t detected and treated, it can lead to cervical cancer.
What Are Your Risks Factor for Cervical Cancer?
The main risk factor for developing cervical cancer is HPV or the Human Papillomavirus. This is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer, and you can contract it from any kind of sexual encounter.
Other risks include smoking, long term use of contraceptives, an active sexual life, and giving birth repeatedly.
Risks DO NOT include family history. Even if no one in your family has had cervical cancer before, you should still be screened.
Just because you have no symptoms does not mean you have no risk of cervical cancer. A screening test is done precisely to detect abnormal cells when there are no symptoms.
Don’t delay screening because you are afraid you may already have cervical cancer, and it’s too late to be treated. Regular screenings are often able to catch the suspicious cells early enough to treat and prevent the development of cervical cancer.
Why Aren’t Annual Pelvic Exams or Pap Smears Required Anymore?
If pap smears can help detect cancer, why are physicians finding that they aren’t necessary to have annually? Here are a few reasons annual pelvic exams and pap smears aren’t required every year:
- There are too many false positives – Frequent screening leads to more frequent need for follow up tests that can be invasive and have unwanted side effects, including problems related to future pregnancies and delivery, as well as increased anxiety and time away from work or home.
- Screening every three years is perfectly safe – Studies show that screening every three years is adequate for early detection.
- Women are getting pap smears too young – Women under the age of 21 shouldn’t be getting a pap smear because it increases the odds of false positives even more. At the age of 21, women should get their first pap smear and talk to their physician about what they suggest about pelvic exams in the future.
New Recommendations for Pap Smears
Here are the recommendations for women who are at average risk for cervical cancer:
- Under the age of 21: No pap smear necessary
- 21 to 29: Pap smear required once every three years
- 30 to 65: Pap smear required every three years or a combination of a Pap smear and HPV test every five years.
- More than 65: No pap smear necessary if all recent screenings have been normal
Benefits of Regular Pap Smears
Unfortunately, cervical cancer rates have been on the rise in the last several years. A recent study confirmed that there has been a 47% increase in cervical cancer among white women age 55 to 59, and a 72% increase among black women in the same age group.
Regular Pap smears can reduce these numbers. When you follow the guidelines for regular Pap tests and HPV screenings, the benefits are both physical and emotional.
First, you are reassured in knowing that you are doing all you can to prevent cervical cancer. In addition to this, you are being screened before any dangerous symptoms show up, and you also know you are catching any abnormal cells that could later develop into cancer.
There is less of a chance for the cancer to spread if it is caught and treated early on, and most important of all, you have a better overall chance of survival.
Please note that it’s still important to see Downriver Obstetrics & Gynecology more than once every three years for proper preventive care and for questions about women’s health.
Schedule a Pap Test in Trenton Today
Call our office at (734) 671-2110 to schedule your pap smear or pelvic exam today.