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Do I really need two pap-smears in a year?

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Dear Doc,

To my knowledge pap-smears are recommended annually. To my surprise, my doctor has called me to repeat another smear in six months. Do they really know what they are doing?{{more}}

Laverne

Dear Laverne,

You are correct that pap-smears are usually done annually. I cannot attest that the person who did your pap-smear is competent or not. When a pap-smear is taken it is sent to the laboratory where the pathologist examines the cells that were collected.

The doctor is looking not just for abnormal cells, but first he must be confident that the cells are from the cervix and not from the vaginal vault. If the cells are not from the mouth of the cervix, then it must be repeated.

Depending on the changes seen among the cells on the smear, the pathologist could request a new smear to compare results, so as to be sure of the diagnosis. Depending on the suspicion of the pathologist, he can ask for an immediate repeat or over a set period. I know of a gynaecologist who sends swabs of other parts of the body and labels it as a pap-smear, to keep the pathologist “on the ball”.

Trust your team of experts. The inconvenience of a repeated pap-smear is worth it.

Doc

SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 526-7036

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