With this month being cervical cancer awareness month, our Trusted Women’s Health Center team, led by board-certified OB-GYN Sidiq Aldabbagh, MD, is taking extra steps to help our patients understand more about Pap testing (also called Pap smear) and why it’s so important.
You can have routine Pap testing conveniently in our Kendall and Miami, Florida, offices, and it can give you major health benefits — and maybe even save your life. Read on to find out what you need to know about Pap testing.
A Pap test involves a swab or light scrape of the inside of your cervix (the opening to your uterus). Then, we study the sample in the lab, where we can determine whether you have abnormal cellular growth.
Pap test results may be either normal, abnormal, or unclear, with multiple variations in each category.
It’s important to know that abnormal cellular growth doesn’t always mean you’ll develop cervical cancer — in fact, it only happens in about 1-7% of cases, based on the type of abnormal cells.
Usually, abnormal Pap results indicate a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, a very common condition that affects nearly every woman at some point. However, other things such as hormone fluctuations, yeast infections, and uterine polyps can cause abnormal Pap test results too.
We take the time to explain what your results mean and how they could affect your health. If you need treatment to prevent cervical cancer, we explain the options and help you understand them.
Treatment approaches vary widely based on the grade and type of abnormal cell changes.
In many cases, it involves Pap retesting, along with a watch-and-wait approach. This is often effective, as 90% of HPV infections go away naturally within two years.
However, if you have abnormal cells that are at higher risk of progressing to cervical cancer, we may recommend a colposcopy and biopsy. In a colposcopy, Dr. Aldabbagh uses an advanced microscope to examine your cervix in detail.
He may do a special type of biopsy (cone biopsy), in which he extracts a small conical section of tissue for further evaluation. Depending on the biopsy results, we may recommend a procedure to destroy the abnormal cells.
The most common procedure of this type is a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), in which Dr. Aldabbagh uses a slim wire loop to destroy abnormal tissue using a low-level electrical current. This is an in-office treatment with local anesthesia.
There are many other treatment options, including cryotherapy (freezing the tissue), laser therapy, or surgical excision in a hospital setting. Treating the abnormal tissue now, versus later when it grows and causes symptoms, can protect your health and even save your life.
We have a wide range of effective strategies for preventing and treating cervical cancer, and Pap testing is what alerts us when that’s necessary. Pap tests only take a matter of minutes and we can do the test during your annual exam, so don’t delay your test further. It might just save your life!
We offer convenient weekday and weekend appointments, so contact us online or by phone to schedule your Pap test now.