There are few tests more straightforward and more effective when it comes to your reproductive health than a Pap test. At Capital Women’s Care, the OB/GYNs turn to this valuable screening tool to help women in Rockville and Silver Spring, Maryland, stay one step ahead of their health. To explore why a Pap test should be part of your preventive healthcare, call or book an appointment online.
A Pap test checks for abnormal cell changes in your cervix, which could signal something more significant at play. To perform a Pap test, the doctor simply takes a swab of your cervix.
This simple test is the most valuable tool when it comes to detecting cervical cancer in its earliest, even precancerous, stages. The American Cancer Society estimates over 13,000 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2018 and approximately one-third of these women will die from the disease.
The reason why the fatality rate is so high with this cancer is it often goes undetected until the cancer is in its later stages. Cervical cancer is very aggressive and hard to treat once it has taken hold, which means early detection is critical.
However, if your doctor detects it early enough, the cancer is highly treatable.
If your results come back and indicate the presence of abnormal cell changes, there’s no cause for immediate alarm. More often than not, these cell changes are attributable to HPV, or the human papillomavirus.
HPV is a widespread sexually transmitted infection; most sexually active people in the United States will have some form of HPV in their lives without even knowing it.
If it’s the first time your test shows abnormal cell changes, your gynecologist at Capital Women’s Care will likely take a wait-and-see approach to start. If HPV causes the abnormal cell changes, your body often fights off the infection on its own. However, your doctor may have you come back in 3-6 months to retest you and ensure the virus has receded.
If you continue to have abnormal results, your gynecologist conducts further testing, including a colposcopy, which allows them to take a closer look at your cervix and take a tissue sample for a biopsy, if necessary.
The medical experts at Capital Women’s Care recommend you have a Pap test annually as part of your wellness exam. If your test results are positive for abnormal cells, they recommend more frequent testing.
To make a Pap test part of your preventive healthcare, call Capital Women’s Care, or book an appointment using the convenient online scheduler.