Early detection of cervical cancer improves your chances of beating this often fatal disease. A Pap smear is an effective procedure to screen you for your risk of developing cervical cancer. Women in the Atlanta, Emory, and Morrow, Georgia, areas can get a Pap smear at Georgia Center for Women. To learn more about Pap smears and have the simple test done, call the office nearest you for an exam or book an appointment online.
A Pap smear detects changes in your cervical cells. The test doesn’t definitively diagnose cervical cancer but does help your doctor determine if you need further exams.
A Pap smear is usually performed during a routine pelvic exam. Your doctor at Georgia Center for Women uses a swab or brush to collect a sampling of cells from your cervix. The test is brief and you may feel some pressure during the collection, but it’s generally pain-free.
All women age 21-65 benefit from getting regular Pap smears. Usually, you should begin to get them at age 21, but you and your doctor at Georgia Center for Women can decide the right schedule for you depending on your medical history, family history, and sexual activity.
Most women should get a Pap smear every three years. If you have a history of normal Pap smears, your doctor may switch you to getting a Pap smear once every five years.
But, you may need more frequent Pap smears if you have certain risk factors, including:
You may end Pap testing if you’ve had a total hysterectomy or are older than 65.
If your Pap results come back normal, it means no abnormal cells were found. Abnormal results (often referred to as positive) do not mean you have cervical cancer. In most cases, an abnormal test means you have cell changes caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes, cervical cells appear irregular due to the natural process of aging or an infection.
Depending on your test results, your doctor at Georgia Center for Women may ask that you repeat a Pap smear in a few months to see if the abnormal cells resolve on their own. In other cases, they may recommend a more in-depth evaluation of your cervix known as a colposcopy.
To schedule your Pap smear, call the Georgia Center for Women location that’s most convenient for you or book using the online tool.