Hi #GYNEGirls, #Preggos, and #GENTs! It’s me- Dr. Drai #AmericasOBGYN. It’s finally quiet on the Labor Suite. Thank GAWD. Let me tell you this one more time. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. Before the PAP smear was invented #GYNEGirls, cervical cancer was the most common gynecologic cancer in the world. We have made SOME improvement; now cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. In the United States, cervical cancer is the 7th most common cancer among women. There are about 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer each year AND about 4,000 women will die each year. We still have a long way to go.
For those #GYNEGirls that don’t know, a PAP smear is done to screen for cervical cancer. I use a brush to scrape your cervix for cells. The brush is then put in solution and sent to another DOC (pathologist) to look at under a microscope. We- the OBGYNs- have changed our PAP smear rules. You are not going to like it BUT Dr. Drai will explain everything. I promise. Keep reading below to learn 6 things you need to know about PAP Smears.
1. Age 21: Ladies- It’s time to get your 1st PAP smear. MOMs- NO more making your daughter get a PAP smears when she becomes sexually active.
2. Ages 21-29: Get your PAP smear every 3 years. If it comes back abnormal, you have to get a colposcopy first. We will talk about “colpo” later. Your PAP smear will then be scheduled every year initially. It’s okay- you know you want to visit Dr. Drai anyways.
3. Ages 30-65: Get your PAP Smear every 3 years OR your DOC can order a PAP Smear + HPV (Human Papillavirus) testing every 5 years. If it comes back abnormal, you have to get a colposcopy first. Your PAP smear will then be scheduled every year initially.
4. Age > 65: No more PAP Smears IF you have had 3 normal smears within 10 years. That’s GREAT News right? YAY!
5. #GYNEGirls who have had TOTAL (cervix was removed) hysterectomies for non-cancer: No more PAP smears for YOU.
6. #GYNEGirls who have had cervical cancer: You have to get your PAP smears for at least 20 years.
Abnormal PAP smear? Don’t be SCARED. Let me explain myself. If your smear comes back Abnormal, you have to get a colposcopy. It’s NO BIG DEAL! You come to the office and I look at your cervix through a microscope. I put vinegar on the cervix and look for changes. Abnormal cells turn white. If Dr. Drai sees something Abnormal on your cervix, you will have a biopsy done- a piece of the cervix is cut off. It’s a small piece. No worries. I send the biopsy away to that same DOC so she can tell me if cancer is there or not. Most likely not…I have told you this ONE before. HPV causes cervical cancer. Therefore #GYNEGirls if you don’t have HPV, you are not likely to have abnormal PAP smears or get cervical cancer. Until next time…