How a Pap Smear Can Save Your Life

Even if you’re feeling great, you should keep up with regular screenings that can help maintain your good health. 

Our doctors at The Center for Women's Health want you to make Pap smears, which detect early-stage cervical cancer, part of your health care routine.

Years ago, women with cervical cancer had a poor prognosis. Now, regular Pap tests detect abnormal cell changes early on, before they become cancer. That makes it far easier to prevent the serious disease. 

Pap tests increase survival rates. Studies show that women diagnosed with cervical cancer found by a Pap smear had a 26% better cure rate than women who discovered their cancer because of symptoms.

The doctors at the Center for Women's Health — Mid Atlantic Women's Care want you to have a long and healthy life. Here’s how regular Pap tests can save your life.

HPV can raise the risk of cervical cancer

Human papillomavirus (HPV) affects nearly all sexually active people at some point in their lives. Roughly 80 million Americans currently are infected with HPV, and 14 million more become newly infected each year. 

Unfortunately, about 90% of people with HPV don’t know they have it, because they’re symptom-free. Also, the virus can remain dormant for months or years, so people can develop symptoms or HPV-related complications long after infection occurs.

HPV can cause changes in cervical cells that lead to cancer. Actually, two types of HPV (HPV type 16 and type 18) cause most cases of cervical cancer, and the cervical HPV test detects the presence of these two specific types. 

When should you get a Pap test?

Doctors recommend that women should begin getting Pap tests beginning at age 21, then repeat the test every three years until 65. Women age 30 and older can get a Pap test every five years if it’s combined with testing for HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. 

Women with increased risks for cervical cancer, or women who’ve had previous Pap smears that showed precancerous or cancerous cells, should get more frequent Pap smears, as recommended by their doctors.

The doctors at the Center for Women's Health — Mid Atlantic Women's Care want you to live the healthiest life possible. To schedule a Pap or HPV test, or to have your annual pelvic exam, call the office most convenient to you, or use our online scheduling tool.