Pap Smear FAQs
- Posted on: Oct 30 2018
“Staying busy,” is a nice way of saying you’re a productive member of society, but when it comes down to it, many of us really are that busy! Our days fly by and it’s suddenly October. Where did the summer go?
Though we’re happy about cooler weather and the upcoming holiday season, there’s one thing we have to check off our list. Getting a pap smear might not be the most exciting appointment on your calendar, but it’s an important one. Keep reading to learn about pap smears and why they’re key to identifying cervical cancer.
What is the purpose of a Pap smear?
If you’ve never had a Pap smear, then you might be nervous about getting one. Maybe you don’t even know what it’s for. Other physicians can sometimes gloss over why pap smears are important. A Pap smear (also called the Pap test) is a quick procedure that helps test your cervical cells for any abnormalities that include cancerous and precancerous cells.
How does it work?
Usually performed during your regular pelvic exam, a Pap smear is a quick addition to your regular appointment. A small, hinged metal tool called a speculum is inserted into the vagina to open it slightly. This tool allows your physician to see your cervix. After this, a small brush or medical spatula is inserted and used to collect a small sample of cells from your cervix. This sample is sent to a lab to be tested for cancerous and precancerous cells.
Do I need one if I’m a virgin?
Your risk of developing cervical cancer is lower if you’re a virgin (or if you’ve never had vaginal sex) than if you’re a sexually-active woman. Family history and other factors (like smoking) may still increase your risk, so don’t think that your chances are zero percent. Discuss your family history with your physician to determine if your chances of developing cervical cancer warrant a pap smear.
A Pap smear can help us find cervical cancer in a stage where it’s easier to treat. Consider talking to your insurance: often you can get a pap smear test without cost to you.
Posted in: Cancer Care