When young women become sexually active or approach the age of a young adult, it is strongly recommended to receive a pap smear on a yearly basis. A pap smear is performed by your routine gynecologist where cells from the cervix are obtained using a swab and sent out to a lab where they are analyzed. It is a painless test that takes only a few minutes and can assist in early detection of any abnormal cells circulating the surface of the cervix.
Hearing results from your physician that your pap smear came back abnormal does not distinctively mean cervical cancer. In most cases, the results are suggestive of abnormal cells but not conclusive and a repeat pap smear is performed in 6 months to see if the cells have matured to a diseased or normal state. A pap smear can also reveal that a strain of HPV (human papilloma virus) is present. There are over 20 strains of HPV, with only 2 being “high risk”. If a pap smear’s results come back suggesting that the cells may be consistent with those of a strain of high-risk HPV, then your physician may recommend that a colposcopy be performed. A colposcopy is a procedure that Dr. Shakiba performs in office where the cervix is visualized under high magnification and the area of the cervix that is harvesting the potentially diseased cells, is taken as a biopsy and sent out for pathological readings.
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