Cervical Cancer and the Importance of Routine Pap Smears

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and while cervical cancer may not be as publicized as breast cancer — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month — cervical cancer is a serious problem. 

In fact, cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the last 40 years, however, these numbers have declined for one reason: regular Pap smears. 

Drs. Richard Cole and Ralph Kramer understand the importance of regular screenings for cancers of all kinds, which is why we offer Pap tests at our Stuart, Virginia, practice. At Patrick County Family Medicine, we focus on keeping you healthy as well as informed. 

The lowdown on cervical cancer 

We understand that not everyone is as familiar with cervical cancer as some of the other cancer types, but as you can clearly see, it can be a serious problem for those who go uninformed of its existence. And, unfortunately, many of the symptoms of cervical cancer can be similar to menstruation, making it hard to separate them from the regular side effects of PMS or menstruation. They include

In addition, these symptoms may be mild or sometimes not occur at all, which can make it very difficult to recognize cervical cancer. As such, it is extremely important to have regular Pap smears. 

Pap smears help your doctor determine your risk of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer can often go undetected and swiftly create severe, irreversible effects before anyone realizes it has developed. As a precaution, we want you to get regular Pap smears to avoid this possibility. 

A Pap smear is a test that involves using a speculum to widen the vagina. Dr. Cole then takes a sample of cells from the vagina, and those cells are sent to a laboratory. The results of the test may take as many as three weeks to come back, and abnormal results could have a number of origins. 

Make sure you remember that abnormal results on a Pap smear don’t necessarily mean you have cancer. They simply mean that the cells didn’t look normal, which will require further testing. 

Instead of letting cervical cancer go unnoticed for years, Pap smears can allow doctors to inform their patients if something looks wrong much more quickly, which allows medicine to intervene much earlier. You should get a regular Pap smear every three years if you’re between the ages of 21 and 65 and you have a uterus. 

Want to schedule your Pap test now? 

There’s no better time than the beginning of the year to schedule your Pap test. With January designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month, you’ll be doing your part to stay informed about your own cervical health. 

Just call today to make an appointment at one of our two Stuart, Virginia, locations, or request an appointment online at your earliest convenience. You can also send our team a message here on our website.

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