Most cervical cancers can be prevented through effective screening by Papanicolaou (Pap) smear and avoidance of known risk factors. The Pap smear is a safe, non-invasive medical procedure in which cellular material is obtained from the uterine cervix for evaluation. Between 60 and 80 percent of women who are diagnosed in the United States with invasive cervical cancer have not had a Pap test in the previous year. Pap smears can detect cervical cancer, precancerous lesions, and a variety of infectious conditions.
A pelvic exam involves a doctor or other healthcare professional examining a patient’s external genitals, or vulva, then cervix. In the external examination, he or she will look for signs of redness, irritation, discharge, cysts, genital warts, or other conditions, as well as feeling for cysts. In the internal examination of the cervix, which is the opening to the uterus, the doctor or other healthcare professional will examine the patient’s vaginal walls for lesions, inflammation or unusual discharge, then he or she will check the cervix for unusual discharge, signs of infection, lesions, discoloration, damage or growths.
A woman should have her first annual Pap test and pelvic exam beginning at 18 years or at the age of first sexual intercourse, whichever is earlier. Women should continue to receive regular Pap tests and pelvic exams after menopause.
We offer Pap smears and pelvic examinations to screen for cervical cancer. A woman is advised to have Pap smear every year if she is sexually active or has reached age 18. Having regular Pap smears increases the likelihood that abnormal cells will be detected before they develop into cervical cancer.