The Pap smear is a procedure used in the detection of cervical cancer.
Since the introduction of the Pap smear, it has helped to dramatically reduce the incidence of cervical cancer.
There is a direct relation between the exposure to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and the development of cervical cancer.
1. low risk – associated with the development of venereal warts
2. high risk – associated with potential development of cervical and other cancers.
Most women who are exposed to HPV are unaffected. Adolescent women are rarely affected long term and more recently the guidelines advise against doing pap smears under the age of 21.
We do not routinely do gynecological/pelvic exams on adolescent women unless there are special circumstances.
The frequency of doing pap smears varies with age group and a woman’s individual life experience.
Currently women aged between 21 and 30 do a pap every 3 years and those after age 30 through 65 every 3 to 5 years depending on certain factors which vary with each woman. Clearly if issues exist in different women the frequency can vary and be more frequent.
Vaccinations are now available against HPV infection and are advised especially for women between the ages of 9 and 26.
Most problems associated with abnormal pap smears can be safely managed in the office setting.
The pap smear is not a screening test for uterine, ovarian or fallopian tube cancer!