Cervical cancer screening is a straightforward procedure that could save your life. If you're due for a Pap smear or you haven't undergone screening before, Jhonathan Duarte, MD, and Vicente Gari, MD, of Miami Women's Health Associates in Miami, Florida, can help. They provide comprehensive gynecological cancer services, including cervical cancer screening. To find out whether you need a Pap smear or to schedule a consultation, call their Coconut Grove office or book an appointment online today.
Cervical cancer is a disease affecting the cervix, where your vagina joins your uterus. When you have cervical cancer, the cells mutate and grow out of control, gradually spreading deep into the cervical tissue. Eventually, cancerous cells may spread (metastasize) to other organs in your body.
In most cases, cervical cancer results from infection with HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is a very common type of STD (sexually transmitted disease), and most sexually active people get an HPV infection at some point.
There are many different strains of HPV, many of which cause infections that are mild and clear up without you realizing you had them. However, if you contract a high-risk type of HPV that lasts a long time, it can cause more serious changes in the cervical cells. It's these "high-grade" changes that are likely to trigger cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer screening is an invaluable test for identifying cells in your cervix that may become cancerous. The screening consists of cervical cytology, better known as a Pap smear, and often includes testing for HPV.
The cervical cancer screening process at Miami Women's Health Associates is simple and quick. You lie on an exam table in your OB/GYN's office, and they insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum opens the vagina to provide a clear view of your cervix.
Your OB/GYN removes a sample of cells from your cervix, puts them into a special liquid, and sends them for laboratory testing. A Pap smear identifies any abnormal cells, while the HPV test detects any of 13–14 of the most common high-risk types of HPV.
If your Pap smear is positive, more often than not, the cell changes aren't due to cancer and may not require any treatment. Your OB/GYN can perform further tests such as a colposcopy to confirm the diagnosis.
If you're between 21 and 29, you need to have a Pap smear every three years, but you don't need an HPV test. From 30–65, you should have a Pap smear and an HPV test every five years. You may also choose to have a Pap test on its own every three years.
Your Miami Women's Health Associates OB/GYN can perform the required tests at your regular well-woman exam.
Cervical cancer screening is vital because the disease is highly treatable in its earlier stages. When the cancer spreads, it can be much harder to treat successfully and could be life-threatening.
To arrange your cervical cancer screening, call Miami Women's Health Associates or book an appointment online today.