You can prevent cervical cancer by getting routine Pap smears. The caring doctors and nurse practitioners at Burlington OBGYN Associates Inc. in Burlington, Massachusetts, help you stay healthy by assessing your cancer risks, recommending when to schedule Pap smears, and providing prompt in-office care in the event a Pap smear indicates precancerous changes. If you haven’t had a Pap smear in the last three years, it’s time to protect your health and schedule an appointment. Call Burlington OBGYN Associates Inc. or use the online booking feature today.
A Pap smear is a routine office procedure that screens for cervical cancer. During a Pap smear, your provider removes a small sample of cells from around your cervix.
They send the sample to a lab, where specialists view the tissues under a microscope, identify the cells, and send a report to your Burlington OBGYN Associates Inc. provider.
Cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). Your immune system usually eliminates the virus. But if the virus infiltrates cells in your cervix, it causes abnormal cell growth that becomes cervical cancer.
Pap smears reveal cellular changes and whether they’re precancerous. Routine Pap smears detect cancerous changes at an early stage while it’s easily cured.
All women should have their first Pap smear when they become sexually active or at the age of 21. At your first Pap smear, your provider recommends how frequently you should schedule routine screenings based on your age and risk factors.
If all the cells in your sample were normal, you have a negative Pap smear. A positive Pap smear may include a range of possible issues, including:
Mild cellular changes may or may not be caused by an HPV infection. Your provider may run an HPV test or wait a few months (giving a possible HPV infection time to heal) and then take another Pap smear.
If your follow-up test is still positive, your provider may recommend a colposcopy, an in-office procedure to examine your cervix and remove any abnormal tissues.
Moderate to severe cellular changes are worrisome for potential cancer. Your provider does a colposcopy to remove the cells.
If you haven’t had regular Pap smears, your test could reveal cervical cancer. If that happens, the first step is still a colposcopy. Your provider removes as many cells as possible, and the tissues are reviewed in the lab to determine if all the cancer was removed or whether it may have spread.
If it’s time for a Pap smear (or you’re overdue), call Burlington OBGYN Associates Inc. or request an appointment online today.