Cervical cancer screenings, or Pap tests, are typically performed by a gynecologist or primary care provider. Receiving regular cervical cancer screenings plays an important role in prevention efforts and early detection of cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer can be screened for through Pap tests and HPV tests. During these tests, your physician will use a swab or small brush to acquire a sample of cervical cells. A lab analysis will then determine changes in the cells that could develop into cancer. It is recommended that women age 21 to 65 should get regular Pap tests.
Trying to understand cervical cancer screening results can be confusing. If your Pap test or HPV test results indicate abnormalities, a doctor (typically a gynecologist) will conduct a pelvic exam to determine if cancer is present. This exam may include a colposcopy and cervical biopsy. The colposcopy and biopsy are done during an office visit and will be a little more uncomfortable than a regular Pap test.
If cancer is detected, you may be referred to an oncologist or gynecologic oncologist (a cancer doctor who specializes in gynecological cancers) who will use further testing to determine the cancer’s stage and cervical cancer treatment options.
Women who have not had regular pelvic exams or Pap tests run a higher risk for developing cervical cancer.
Contracting the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), though common, is also a chief risk factor for cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are recommended for boys and girls around age 11 or 12.