Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, but that changed after Pap smears became a routine part of women’s health care. With a Pap smear performed by Dr. Stephen Weinstein, cervical cancer can be found at an early stage while it’s still treatable. If you haven’t had a Pap smear in three years, call his office in Walnut Creek, California, or book your routine pelvic exam online.
Women should get Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer following this schedule:
Dr. Weinstein may recommend more frequent screening if you have a family history of cervical cancer, you have HIV, or you were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth.
To do a Pap smear, Dr. Weinstein takes samples of cells from your cervix using a Cervex-Brush®, cotton swab, or a small spatula. He places the cells on a slide and sends them to a lab where trained technicians examine the tissues for precancerous cellular changes.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer. About 40 different types of HPV can be spread through sexual contact. Of those, two types are responsible for most cervical cancers.
Your immune system normally fights an invading HPV virus, but sometimes the virus manages to invade cells in the cervix. When that happens, the cells grow abnormally, becoming precancerous then gradually turning into cancer.
Dr. Weinstein receives a report from the lab stating the types of cells found on your Pap smear and their grade, which is based on changes in the size and shape of the cells. Depending on your results, you may need to wait a short time then have another Pap test performed, or you may need an HPV test.
Pap tests don’t diagnose cancer — they only screen for cell changes — so if your Pap results raise a red flag, you’ll need additional testing. Dr. Weinstein may perform a colposcopy to visually examine your vagina and cervix and take a tissue biopsy if necessary.
After a biopsy verifies the presence of abnormal cervical cells, Dr. Weinstein performs one of the following procedures:
With regular Pap smears you can catch cervical cancer while it’s curable, so please call Dr. Weinstein or book an appointment online if you’re due for a pelvic exam and Pap test.