Thin-layer Pap Technology
At Finger Lakes Health, we believe that informed health consumers who are aware of our available services, specialty practices, and technologies are better able to manage their health care needs and advocate for themselves.
There's plenty of good news in the war against cervical cancer. Although it strikes approximately 12,000 women in the United States each year, incidence of this slow-growing cancer has been decreasing steadily over the past several decades. What's more, over the last 50 years, routine use of the Pap test to screen for cervical cancer has reduced deaths from the disease by 74%. One of the most significant advances in the fight against cervical cancer is the development of HPV vaccines.
A Pap test is a standard way health care providers monitor cervical cell changes that might cause concern. The Pap test involves looking at a sample of cells from the cervix under a microscope to see any abnormalities. It is a good test for finding not only cancer, but also finding cells that might become cancerous in the future.
Thin-layer technology has improved the Pap smear and has been the standard of care at Finger Lakes Health Laboratory since 2003. Liquid based thin-layer preparation has become the gold standard for collection and preparation of the slides. By standardizing collection, one of the variables related to false negatives is significantly reduced, improving patient outcomes.
In addition, molecular tests including Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing may be performed on the same sample vial. This virus is responsible for the majority of precancerous and cancerous lesions of the cervix. In fact, recent studies have shown that certain types of HPV are detected in 99.8% of squamous cell carcinomas of the cervix. In June 2006, news regarding the development of HPV vaccines was widely communicated when the use of one of these vaccines, Gardasil®, was approved by the FDA for use in 9-26 year old women and girls. In large clinical trials, the vaccine was found to be very effective in protecting women from developing precancerous lesions.
Early vaccination with regular screening according to standard guidelines is now the most effective strategy to prevent cervical cancer. The benefits of vaccination decline as exposure to HPV increases. Therefore, the ideal time to administer the vaccine is before females start having sexual intercourse. With widespread use of this vaccine, it is expected that cervical cancer will decrease by up to 70%. The actual effects of HPV vaccination will be dependent upon how widespread it will be used, and upon the continued practice of regular cervical cancer screening according to established guidelines.
Although cervical cancer is becoming less common in the United States due to regular screening programs, cervical cancer is still the second-most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide.
It is important for all women to have Pap tests, along with pelvic exams, as part of their routine health care. You need a Pap test if you are:
• 21 years or older
• Under 21 years old and have been sexually active for three years or more
There is no age limit for the Pap test. Even women who have gone through menopause need regular Pap tests. The frequency of your Pap test depends on your age and health history.
Finger Lakes Health offers two convenient women's health locations serving the diagnostic and treatment needs of women living in the Finger Lakes. The Women's Health Services suite is located on the third floor of the Medical Office Building adjacent to Geneva General Hospital. At Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital, a specialized area for women's services is located in the Diagnostic Imaging Department. Each location is specifically designed to provide state-of-the-art mammography. At Geneva General Hospital and Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital we also offer bone density testing services to diagnose osteoporosis.