Over 50 million Pap smears, or Pap tests, are performed every year to test for precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix. Dr. Sally Thomas at Thomas Family Practice helps women living in the communities in or around Houston receive the preventive care they need to ensure they can continue leading a healthy life. Call or go online today to book your Pap smear appointment.
Dr. Thomas uses Pap smear tests to look for cervical cancer or abnormalities in cervical cells. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus and opens into the vagina. These tests can identify current cancers and monitor changes in your cervical cells that may increase your chances of cancer developing later.
Your health insurance plan is likely to cover Pap tests or cervical cancer screening at no cost to you.
After you get up on the exam table and place your feet in the stirrups, Dr. Thomas gently inserts a speculum into your vagina to open the vagina walls, which provides her visual access to the cervix. Then, she swabs a sample of your cervical cells and sends them off to a lab for testing.
The procedure is quick and not painful. Keep in mind, that because the speculum opens your vaginal walls, you might feel some pressure and discomfort during the procedure.
The team at Thomas Family Practice recommends that you get one Pap smear every one to three years after you’ve turned 21 because that’s the age when your risk of developing cervical cancer increases. If you’re over age 65 and have a history of normal Pap smear results, speak with Dr. Thomas about whether you can stop being tested.
Dr. Thomas might recommend more frequent Pap smears if you’re HIV or HPV positive or have a weakened immune system following cancer treatments or an organ transplant.
Pap smears test for and track the progression of the HPV virus, a group of over 150 diseases that can lead to cancer. The virus can remain dormant for a long time before becoming active, so Pap smears are vital to track HPV dormancy and prepare you for an outbreak.
The results of the vast majority of Pap smear results are normal, meaning you have no abnormal cervical cells.
Abnormal Pap smear results don’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but that you have abnormal cells that require monitoring for inflammation or minor cell changes. Dr. Thomas recommends you return to the office for a second test in three months.
A Pap smear is a critical test to prevent cancer. Contact the bilingual team at Thomas Family Practice to book an appointment and learn more about cervical cancer prevention.