Got Pap? Five Minutes Could Save Your Life!

Got Pap?

The pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. It takes five minutes and can save mil- lions of women’s lives. The incidence of cervical cancer has decreased more than 50% in the past 30 years because of wide spread screening with the Pap smear. In
1975, the rate was 14.8 per 100,000 women in the United States. In 2006, it had been reduced to 6.5 per 100,000 women. Death from cervical cancer has also decreased significantly. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2009, there were about 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer and about 4,000 deaths from the disease.

Of the 11,000 new cases that were diagnosed, it is estimated that 50% of those women had never had a Pap smear done and another 10% had not been screened within the past 5 years. Over the past 10 years, a lot of in- formation regarding the causes of cervical cancer,

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), vaccines, screening intervals has been in the media. So who should we listen to? Your health care provider should be able to provide you with the most recent and up-to-date information on most topics.

SCREENING INTERVAL

In the past, the recommendation was that women have a Pap smear and pelvic examination each year. There were no caveats as to whether or not she had reached a certain age or whether she was sexually active. However, over the

past 5 years, with the additional knowledge that has been gained with causative factors for cervical cancer to include exposure to the Human Papilloma Virus, new guidelines have been recommended. The first Pap smear should be done 3 years after the onset of sexual intercourse or by age 21. The incidence of cervical cancer is very rare in adolescents and therefore one of the reasons why this testing can be delayed until 21 years of age. The intervals thereafter, are based on results obtained whether the patient is being followed for an abnormal result or whether the patient has a history of a prior abnormal result. The interval can be increased to every three years in the woman who has had three consecutive normal Pap smears, is not being fol- lowed for any abnormal results, has no history of prior abnormal results and has no other medical problems that require more frequent surveillance or is not receiving contraceptive prescriptions that may require an annual exam.

Women can stop Pap smear screening in the following situations:

1. Hysterectomy – removal of the uterus for benign conditions such as abnormal bleeding, fibroids, endometriosis, chronic endometritis or adenomyosis.

2. Age 70 – the incidence of cervical cancer decreases with age

Although, the women above may not require a Pap smear, a pelvic examination is still necessary to evaluate for the presence of vaginal or vulvar cancer and to assess the ovaries.

It’s a quick test, takes only 5 minutes and can save our lives. Why aren’t more of us going to our health care providers and having it done.

Is it fear, pain, embarrassment or all of the above? Whatever your reasons remember the Pap test saves lives and can diagnose precancerous conditions. Check your calendar and call your health care provider today to schedule your Pap test. WE GOT YOUR PAP!!

Call (703) 834-1071
for an appointment www.womenphysicians.org

Dr. Gloria Ivey-Crowe received her M.D. degree from George- town University School of Medicine. Residency training in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Georgetown University Hospital. Undergraduate Education Bachelor of Science in Biology from American University and also Bachelor of Science as a Physician Assistant from Howard University.

Dr. Ivey-Crowe enjoys reading, knitting, crocheting, and listening to jazz. She has three children.

PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY

I want women to take charge and be proactive in their health care. I want them to feel very comfort- able when they come to our offices and see any one of our providers. We give our patients that personal touch, a listening ear, education, sound advice and options regard- ing their healthcare.

See our next issue for Part 2: HPV, Vaccines and Cervical Cancer

– GLORIA J. IVEY-CROWE, MD
Women Physicians of Northern Virginia

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