Cervical Cancer Screenings

Marietta OB-GYN

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with oncogenic, or high risk, types of human papillomavirus, or HPV. These sexually transmitted viruses are common in those who are sexually active with multiple partners, are having sex with someone who has multiple partners, or who is having unprotected sex outside of a monogamous relationship. HPV infection is unfortunately very common, yet most HPV infections will be suppressed by the immune system within 1-2 years without causing cancer. However, if a cervical infection with a high risk HPV persists, the cellular changes to the cervix can change into cancerous lesions.

Cervical cancer screening is done to screen, or detect, abnormal cells that may develop into cancer if left untreated. Cervical cancer screening includes two types of screening tests: a Pap smear and HPV testing.

  • Pap smear – The Pap smear is a test that detects abnormal cells. It can find noncancerous conditions also like infections and inflammation, and it can find cancer cells. In most cases for women who are regularly screened, a Pap smear identifies abnormal cells before they develop into cancer.
  • HPV test – This test specifically looks for the presence of high risk HPV types in cervical cells. HPV tests can detect HPV infections that cause cell abnormalities before cell abnormalities are even present.

A cervical cancer screening is typically done in a gynecologist’s office. A woman lies on an exam table with her legs propped up in stirrups, and an instrument called a speculum is inserted into her vagina. This instrument widens the vagina to the upper portion of the vagina and cervix can be seen. A sample of cervical cells is taken with a scraper and cervical brush, and the samples are prepared for analysis. The procedure is relatively simple, and though slightly uncomfortable, it is not painful. (Any pain in the cervix should be reported to your gynecologist right away as it could be a serious indication of trouble.)

Women should have a cervical cancer screening by the age of 21, or within three years of becoming sexually active if they have sex before age 21.

The physicians at Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A. use the most advanced technology and testing methods to accurately screen patients for HPV and cervical cancers. You can trust us to provide exceptional gynecologic care. Please call today.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Carlos Alarcon, Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.