Can I just do my own Pap?
Pap smears are anything but comfortable and unfortunately, there is no way around it—or is there? Recently, a research group in the Netherlands found that self-collected samples had similar accuracy rates in terms of detecting “cervical intraepithelial neoplasmia” or abnormal cells compared to clinician-collected samples. In this study, 16,000 women who participated were put into two groups – half were asked to collect their own cervicovaginal sample using a brush and the other half asked to come in for a pap smear by a medical practitioner. Both samples were then tested for HPV. About 7% of the samples were positive for HPV in both groups, and the sensitivity and specificity for detecting HPV were similar.
Studies show that women who do not get cervical cancer screenings are at a high risk for developing cancer. Those in underserved communities may not have the opportunity to consistently go to their doctor so having the option to self-screen may reduce their risk.
So does this mean you don’t have to go to your OBGYN for testing? Not quite. There was a 5% increase in under-screening for women who self-sampled compared to those who went to their clinicians. Furthermore, the annual exam has many components – blood pressure check, breast and pelvic exam, birth control options, screening for other health issues—it’s not just the pap smear. Discussing your health with your doctor is a critical step in managing and preventing many conditions.
If you haven’t had your annual physical exam in the last 12 months, make sure you get it scheduled!
El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems. Drs. Amy Teng, Erika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery. Dr. Erika Balassiano is also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.
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