Pap smears, also known as cervical cancer screening, are routine gynecological tests that can detect cellular changes in the cervix. The Pap smear is named after Dr. George Papanicolaou, who invented it in 1928. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable varieties; however, it's still important to have regular screenings because some women may not know they have been infected with HPV or other factors that can lead to cervical cancer. The majority of cases of cervical cancer occur in women over age 50 and those with weakened immune systems.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women receive regular Pap tests beginning at age 21 and then continue receiving them every three years until they reach age 65. After that point, patients can speak with their physician about testing frequency.
When preparing for your pap smear appointment, ensure you are well-hydrated, have eaten a light meal, and have emptied your bladder. It's also very important that you have all of your necessary medical records in order. For example, if you've recently moved or changed providers, your new doctor must have access to all of your health history. You may also want to bring any questions or concerns about current symptoms with you to the appointment so that they can be addressed while they're fresh in mind.
Pap smears are a great way to stay up-to-date on your health and keep an eye on any potential issues. For more information about how to get a Pap smear and what to expect during the exam, call or visit Atlanta Women's Specialty Group today.