The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV is also the virus that causes cervical cancer, a disease you can detect and prevent with a Pap smear. Noreen Kamal-Mostafavi, MD, in Staten Island, New York, encourages you to protect your health with routine pelvic exams that include a Pap smear. If you have questions or need to schedule an exam, call the office or book an appointment online.
Pap smears screen for cervical cancer. When you get routine Pap smears, you can catch cervical cancer at an early stage, while it’s still curable.
Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus you pick up through sexual contact with an infected person. Though HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease, your immune system usually clears the virus out of your body.
In some women, however, HPV manages to infiltrate cells in the cervix, where the virus causes abnormal cell growth. When an HPV infection goes undetected and untreated, you develop cervical cancer.
Dr. Kamal-Mostafavi performs a Pap smear by scraping a small sample of cells from your cervix. The cells go to a lab, where a trained technician evaluates them under a microscope. When they find abnormal cells, they describe the severity of the precancerous or cancerous changes in your lab report.
When your Pap results show slight or mild abnormalities, Dr. Kamal-Mostafavi may suggest an HPV test or recommend giving your immune system a short time to clear away the virus, then repeating your Pap smear.
If your Pap smear contains moderate or severe cellular changes, or if a repeat Pap smear still shows abnormal cells, Dr. Kamal-Mostafavi performs a colposcopy.
A colposcope is a medical device that gives your doctor a magnified view of your cervix. Dr. Kamal-Mostafavi first treats your cervix with a solution that highlights abnormal cells. Then she looks through the colposcope, examining your cervix for signs of unusual cells.
She removes all the abnormal tissues found during your colposcopy using a technique such as:
When cellular changes are caught before they spread, these procedures eliminate the problem.
The HPV vaccine protects people between the ages of 9-45 from the nine types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. The vaccine doesn’t protect you from all high-risk HPV strains, however, so you’ll still need to get routine Pap smears.
If you need to schedule a Pap smear, call Noreen Kamal-Mostafavi, MD, or book an appointment online.