Women over the age of 21 or who are sexually active are recommended to have a pap smear, which is a routine screening for cervical cancer or other forms of abnormal cells on the cervix. During the test, Dr. Jehangir gently takes a small sample of cells from the cervix and sends them to a lab for screening. A pap smear only takes a few minutes and isn’t painful. Dr. Jehangir provides a comfortable environment to alleviate any embarrassment or apprehension that some women feel about the test. Women are should have a pap smear every 3 years, unless she is at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, has had abnormal pap results in the past, or has an IUD. Women with IUDs are at a higher risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease.
First, abnormal pap results are not uncommon and in most cases is nothing to worry about. Dr. Jehangir prescribes treatment appropriate for the cause of the abnormal results. She then discusses the test results with the patient and provides the patient with information about her options for treatment. For example, in many cases, treatment for the abnormal results may be a simple prescription for antibiotics. If the results indicate cancerous or precancerous cells, Dr. Jehangir may order a biopsy to collect a larger sample of cells for more thorough diagnostics. In other cases, Dr. Jehangir performs a colposcopy. During this procedure, she uses a colposcope to examine the cervix with through a strong magnifier.
Dr. Jehangir may suggest a procedure to remove the abnormal cells. Cyrotherapy treatment is a relatively common method of removal, where the top layer of cervical cells are frozen and removed. Another procedure called LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure), involves a thin wire loop charged with low-voltage electricity to remove the abnormal cells from the cervix are becoming more common.
Pap smears are the most effective way to detect cervical cancer and other conditions that affect the vagina and reproductive system. These medical conditions are symptomless in their early and more treatable stages. If women waited until they started to experience symptoms of cervical cancer, HPV, or other infections that affect the reproductive system, they would have a much more difficult time during treatment and recovery, as treatment would need to be more invasive and have a higher risk of failure.