Pap smears, or Pap tests, are important tests to determine whether there are any signs of cervical cancer. By receiving a routine Pap smear, you can ensure that proper action is taken on time to address cancer and other health concerns.
Pap smears: Frequently asked questions
While many women have heard about the importance of a Pap smear, all too many are unfamiliar with what the test entails. If you are uncertain about a medical test or procedure, you might avoid having it performed. Learn more about Pap smears to increase your knowledge and confidence in the test.
The following are five of the most frequently asked questions about Pap smears.
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a test performed by a medical professional in which they remove a sample of the cervical tissue. The tissue is tested for cancerous cells or any signs that cancerous cells may develop in the future.
According to the American Cancer Society, Pap smears have decreased deaths from cervical cancer by 74 percent in the past fifty years. It is incredibly useful for identifying and treating cases of cervical cancer promptly before the cancer spreads.
How is a Pap smear performed?
A doctor inserts a medical instrument known as a speculum into the vagina, which allows the doctor to see the cervix. At this point, the doctor can take a small sample of cells from the cervix.
While many women fear the procedure is too invasive, it is a fairly pain-free experience with no lasting effects. You may feel uncomfortable, but your doctor does this all the time. Tell them about your thoughts to help calm your nerves.
How long does it take to get the results?
Getting your results can take anywhere from three days to more than two weeks. The length of time is largely dependent on the laboratory that is doing the testing. Be sure to talk to your doctor about when you will see your results. This way you can reduce anxiety and also remind the doctor if the results have not arrived within the first two weeks.
Who should get a Pap smear?
Every woman over the age of eighteen should talk to their doctor about receiving a Pap smear. The test will ensure they are fully healthy, especially women who are sexually active.
How often do I need a Pap smear?
Ideally, it is best to visit your doctor for a Pap smear once every year. That said, your doctor may suggest more frequent testing if you have certain risk factors and previous medical concerns. In some cases, a Pap smear may not be required as frequently. All in all, your doctor will recommend the best testing schedule.
Do you need a Pap smear?
Now that you know the basics of Pap smears, think about the last time you visited a doctor for this test. If you think you are due for another Pap test, call our office for more information.
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