Getting a regular Pap smear
is the best defense women have against cervical cancer
. It is a simple test that requires very little time and is covered by all insurance companies. So, why don't more women get Pap smears?
- The cost. Many uninsured women believe that paying for a Pap smear out of pocket will cost a small fortune.
The truth is that there are many low cost/no cost clinics that offer Pap smears regardless of income. Many just ask for a small donation in lieu of payment. In fact, many doctors waive the office visit fee for uninsured women for Pap smears. Check your local Planned Parenthood, health department, family practice, or Ob/GYN for more information.
- Too old. Many women have the misconception that they don't need a Pap smear because they are too old. Did you know that women need Pap smears regularly until the age of 65? After that age, the doctor will decide whether a woman need to continue having regular Pap smears.
Cervical cancer is a disease that can take years to develop and is often diagnosed in older women.
- Too Young. Just like women may think they are too old for a Pap smear, many women think they are too young. It is a common misconception that women need to start having Pap smears in their late 20's and 30's.
Current cervical cancer screening guidelines recommend that young women have their first Pap smear about 3 years after they begin having sex, or no later than age 21.
- Too busy. Many women often say that they are too busy and will put it off for the next month to have a Pap smear. That month eventually turns into a year, and so on.
What most women don't realize is that a Pap smear can detect changes in the cervix before the become cancerous. The bottom line is that women should never be too busy for their Pap smear.
- They have already finished treatment for dysplasia. Women who have had treatment for cervical dysplasia often think they are cured and they have no risk for developing cervical cancer. However, this is very untrue.
Women who undergo treatments such as LEEPs and cryosurgery need to be diligent about follow up Pap smears. Abnormal cervical changes can still occur leading to cervical cancer in women who have been treated for dysplasia.