A well-woman appointment is a once-a-year general health exam that includes a breast and pelvic exam that may or may not include a Pap test. It is also an opportunity to talk with your physician, nurse practitioner or midwife about your health. In addition to the exam, your provider will ask a series of questions about your health and family health history.
In January 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released the following new Pap smear guidelines:
- Women should have their first screening Pap smear at age 21 unless the woman has had a previous abnormal Pap smear
- Women in their 20's should have a Pap smear every two years (assuming prior Pap smears have been normal)
- Women age 30 and older who have had three consecutive normal Pap smears should have a Pap smear every three years
- Women who have had a hysterectomy for non-cancerous reasons do not need a Pap smear unless they have a cervix
Before a Pap test, avoid douching or applying vaginal creams for two days and refrain from sexual intercourse for 24 hours. If you have your period, you will need to reschedule the test.
Most Pap tests yield normal results. Even an abnormal result rarely indicates cancer; it may simply mean that you need to be treated for an infection or retake the test.
The Preferred Pap Test
Dr. Kobren is a specialist in Abnormal Pap Smears. Regular exams increase the odds of catching precancerous cells before they have a chance to mutate into full-blown cancer. For more information, call Dr. Kobren at 516-933-8527
Regular, monthly breast self-exam will help you learn what is normal for you and your body. Looking and feeling your breasts to familiarize yourself with patterns of lumpiness may help you recognize when there is a change to your breast.
A clinical breast exam, a visual exam and carefully feeling the entire breast, is performed by your health care provider as a part of your regular medical checkup.
If breast cancer is found early, there are more treatment options available and a better chance of survival. A mammogram can find breast cancer before it can be felt. Women age 40 and older should have a clinical breast exam and mammogram at least once. Women at higher risk may need to be screened earlier or more frequently.