Before Pap smears became a routine part of women’s health care, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. At Osceola Gynecology, Dr. Anthony Gyang provides the full range of gynecological care, including Pap smears, follow-up diagnostic testing, and treatment for cervical problems when needed. To schedule a Pap smear, call one of the offices in Orlando, Kissimmee, and St. Cloud, Florida or book an appointment online.
A Pap smear screens for cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus spreads during sexual contact with a person who carries the virus.
Although more than 90% of HPV infections are eliminated by your body’s immune system within two years, the virus isn’t cleared away in some women. Over time, the virus can invade cells in your cervix, then cause abnormal cell growth. The affected cells become precancerous, then gradually turn into cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer doesn’t cause symptoms in its early stage. Eventually, it causes abnormal vaginal bleeding, an unusual discharge from the vagina, and pain during sex.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding includes menstrual periods that are longer or heavier than normal and bleeding between periods, after menopause, or after sex.
Women should have their first Pap smear at the age of 21, and Dr. Gyang can recommend when you should start getting routine Pap smears. Although the current standards suggest getting a Pap smear every three years, you may need more frequent screening if you have a high risk for cervical cancer.
When you get a Pap smear, Dr. Gyang swabs a sample of cells from your cervix and sends them to a lab for evaluation. The lab sends a report stating the types of cells found in your Pap smear and their grade, which is based on changes in the size and shape of cells.
Your report is negative if all the cells were normal. A positive Pap smear doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, because it reports all changes, which may include:
For slightly abnormal or mild results, you may need to have an HPV test or a repeat Pap in 3-6 months to see if the infection clears away.
When your Pap results are moderate to severe, or if mild changes don’t improve over a few months, Dr. Gyang performs a colposcopy to examine your cervix and take a biopsy if necessary.
Don’t put off getting a Pap smear: It’s the only way to detect cervical changes at an early stage when you can easily treat the problem. Call Osceola Gynecology or book an appointment online.