A Pap smear is a quick test that can have big benefits. It’s the best way to find the early signs of cervical cancer, which means a Pap smear is key in cancer prevention. At New England Women’s Healthcare in Woburn and Wilmington, Massachusetts, your care provider can include a Pap smear in your women’s wellness checkups based on your needs. Book your appointment online or by phone now.
A Pap smear is a test in which your New England Women’s Healthcare OB/GYN takes a small tissue sample from your cervix. The tissue sample goes directly to a medical laboratory, where it’s checked for abnormal cells and cancer cells.
First, don’t panic. Your New England Women’s Healthcare team is here to guide you.
Abnormal Pap smears don’t mean you have cervical cancer in most cases. The Pap smear checks for abnormal cells that may be precancerous. Although precancerous cells aren’t cancer at this time, they could become cancer in the future.
Your doctor will explain what your results mean and how to proceed. Sometimes, your OB/GYN will simply monitor changes by scheduling another Pap smear in 12 months. Often, the abnormal cells resolve on their own within that time.
In other cases, you’ll need a colposcopy. In a colposcopy, your doctor examines the abnormal tissue in more detail. Also, you may need a biopsy, in which a tiny tissue segment is removed for cancer testing.
Pap smear scheduling depends on your age, health, and whether you also have human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. HPV testing is often performed at the same time as a Pap smear because more than 14 types of this virus have been connected to cervical cancer.
If you’re 21-29, you don’t need an HPV test unless otherwise recommended by your OB/GYN, but you do need a Pap smear every three years.
If you’re 30-65, it’s usually recommended that you have co-testing. This means both Pap and HPV testing, once every five years. If you opt for Pap smear only, you need to continue at a three-year frequency.
Your doctor may recommend a different Pap smear and HPV testing frequency if you’re at risk for cervical cancer or if you had cancer in the past.
Use the online scheduler or call New England Women’s Healthcare to receive a Pap smear and other women’s health services from a compassionate and supportive team.