We Accept Medicare

How a Pap Smear Can Save Your Life

How a Pap Smear Can Save Your Life

As a woman, routine Pap smears are essential to your health. They are vital for women of all ages. This short, simple procedure in your doctor’s office can save your life. January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and the ideal opportunity to discuss how regular Pap smears can save your life.

Did you know that 40 years ago cervical cancer was the leading cause of death in women? The cervical cancer death rate dropped sharply in the last four decades, largely due to the increased use of Pap smears. 

Dr. Poonam Malhotra at Central Clinic in Spring Hill, Florida, explains why this test is a crucial part of preventive health for women. This simple, in-office test screens for abnormal changes in your cervix and is designed to detect the earliest signs of cervical cancer. 

Each year more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and it’s estimated that over 4,000 will die of the disease. Survival depends on various factors, including the stage at which the cervical cancer is diagnosed.

Early detection leads to better outcomes

When cervical cancer is caught early, your chances of survival are high. This makes routine Pap smears a life-saving tool. In earlier stages of cervical cancer, the amount of cancer is very small. We can only see it under a microscope and it’s confined to a small area. Because it hasn’t spread beyond the cervix in early stages, it’s easier to treat and cure.

Pap smears can catch changes before they becomes cancer

Cervical cancer rarely occurs in women who get routine Pap smears. Most women diagnosed with cervical cancer haven’t had a Pap smear in the five years prior to diagnosis. That’s because a Pap smear can detect precancerous changes in cervical cells, allowing Dr. Malhotra to initiate treatment before cancer develops. 

Precancerous cervical changes are common, and you’re more likely to be diagnosed with precancerous changes than invasive cervical cancer.  

Know your risk

Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary risk factor for cervical cancer. In fact, two types of HPV are responsible for roughly 70% of cervical cancers diagnosed each year. 

Being overweight, consuming a poor diet, having a weakened immune system, and having certain sexually transmitted infections that cause cervical inflammation and raise your cervical cancer risk. Lifestyle factors like smoking also increase your risk. If you smoke, you are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Pap smears are beneficial for women of all ages  

Cervical cancer is more commonly diagnosed in women between the age of 35 and 44. Beginning in your 20s, you should start scheduling routine Pap smears. If you’ve had three normal Pap smears in a row and are free of risk factors, we may recommend scheduling a Pap smear every three years. If you have certain risk factors, we may recommend getting a Pap smear more often.

You should continue getting routine Pap smears as you age. Women over the age of 65 are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. If you have a cervix, it’s essential that you continue getting Pap smears.

Starting young and continuing to get routine Pap smears can save your life. For comprehensive women's care, call our office at 352-254-5649, or request an appointment online.  

You Might Also Enjoy...

I Think My Loved One Is Depressed

You can’t fix your loved one’s depression. However, you can offer support as they work through the challenges of this all-too-common condition. Learn more about depression and successfully overcoming its effects on your loved one.

Home Remedies to Help You Deal with Anxiety

An anxiety disorder can interfere with work, home, and social life. Our family medicine specialist offers information about treating anxiety, including home remedies to help tame its daily challenges.

Can a Chronic Illness Be Cured?

Physicians often hesitate to use the word “cure” in association with chronic illnesses. However, some chronic conditions are “reversible.” Read more about chronic illnesses that might be curable — or at least reversible.

Could I Have Diabetes and Not Even Know It?

Unfortunately, diabetes symptoms are often so subtle you may have it for years before knowing it. Read about the many significant health problems related to untreated diabetes and the signs that indicate you’re at risk.

Where Does Addiction Come From?

Medical researchers have long argued whether addiction is due to lifestyle choices, environment, or DNA. Our substance abuse specialist explains why it’s likely a combination of all three. She also shares information about treatments that can help.