Pap smear testing is the front-line diagnostic tool for detecting signs of cervical cancer and has played a revolutionary role in improving women’s health in recent decades. Pap smear testing is one of many diagnostic services available from Judson Shelnutt, MD, of Shelnutt Gynecology. If you’re overdue for a Pap smear or would like to learn more about the latest in women’s health screening tools and live in or near Athens, Georgia, schedule an appointment today, online or by phone.
A Pap smear is a diagnostic procedure that collects a small number of cells from your cervix for examination under a microscope. The lab technicians who complete Pap smear testing look for signs of cellular changes that indicate cervical cancer, even in the earliest stages.
Pap smear testing is a relatively simple diagnostic tool that saves thousands of lives each and every year. Before Pap smears became a routine part of well-woman examinations, cervical cancer was a leading cause of death among women. Pap smears allow for early detection and early intervention when treatment is most effective.
Pap smear testing is a routine part of a well-woman exam at Shelnutt Gynecology and occurs during your pelvic exam. There’s no need for advance preparation, although if you’re having your period on the day of your appointment, you might need to reschedule.
Once you comfortably recline on the exam table, Dr. Shelnutt uses a medical device called a speculum to gently open your vagina and gain access to your cervix. He then uses a small, thin spatula or brush to collect a small number of cells from your cervix.
You may feel a brief cramping sensation during this part of the process, but there’s no significant discomfort. Collecting the cells needed for Pap smear testing takes just seconds, and the entire process is brief.
After collecting your cells, Dr. Shelnutt sends them to the lab for microscopic evaluation. He receives the results, and lets you know how your test came back.
An abnormal reading is not a cause for concern. There are many circumstances that can lead to an abnormal Pap result, including menstrual blood present at the time of the test, too few cells to provide an adequate sample, or inflammation.
You will need to return to Shelnutt Gynecology, though, for additional testing. Dr. Shelnutt explains the next steps based on your test results. If there are signs of cervical cancer, removing the abnormal cells is the most common treatment approach. There are several methods of cell removal, and Dr. Shelnutt can guide you toward the treatment that’s right for you.
If you have questions or concerns about Pap smear testing, or if you’re overdue for a Pap smear or well-woman exam, call Shelnutt Gynecology or use the online booking tool to set up a visit today.