According to OBGYN Montgomery County Dr. Rania Ibrahim, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2012 about 4,000 women died of cervical cancer. This type of cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the country.
Now, however, many precautionary measures can be taken to prevent and diagnose cervical cancer in its early stages. These include HPV vaccines or getting a routine Pap test, which is a procedure during which cells are collected from a woman’s cervix.
The cells are then evaluated for abnormalities under a microscope, specifically pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions within the cells.
According to Dr. Ibrahim, Pap smears are the most effective tool to detect precancerous conditions and hidden, small tumors that may lead to cervical cancer.
Your OBGYN Montgomery County urges her patients to start getting Pap screen testing when they reach the age of 21 or three years after initially becoming sexually active. Routine screenings are recommended every three years for women who are between the ages of 21 and 65. For women over age 30 with both normal Pap testing results and a negative HPV test, tests can be done every five years.
Pap smears are not painful, but they can cause slight discomfort, similar to menstrual cramps, and spotting. Pap smears are performed during pelvic exams. Your OBGYN will have you lie on a table with your feet in stirrups and then use an instrument called a speculum to open the vagina, allowing her to see inside the vagina and the cervix.
A plastic spatula and small brush are used to scrape cells from the cervix, which are then placed into a solution and sent to a lab for testing. To prepare for a Pap smear, avoid having intercourse, douching or using any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams or jellies for two days before the test, as these could potentially wash away abnormal cells. Although the test can still be performed, you should also try to avoid scheduling a Pap smear during your menstrual period.
Also, be prepared to answer questions from your OBGYN Montgomery County about your last menstrual period, whether you use birth control and what kind it is, any medications you are taking and if you are pregnant, among other basic screening questions.
Have you had a Pap test lately? If not – don’t hesitate – call the office of OBGYN Montgomery County Dr. Rania Ibrahim to schedule a confidential appointment.