But because the test can detect potentially abnormal cell growth, it can also determine whether a woman might have cervical cancer.
“No on should die of cervical cancer, because we’ve go the technology to detect it and treat it early,” said Georgia DeKeyser, Interim Director of the Student Health and Counseling Center.
She said that in the same way a virus can impact one’s nose, ears, mouth or other part of the body, viruses could also be a warning sign of cancer. Treatment of abnormal cell reproduction can range from keeping a watchful eye on the questionable growth to surgery.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website recommends women 21 years old or over to have a pap smear once every two years.
DeKeyser said she understands some women might be uncomfortable with the idea of getting a pap smear, and the center is ready to deal with those concerns.
“We do a lot of first time exams for women,” she said.
The range of women’s wellness exams offered by the center can vary from person-to-person.
DeKeyser said an exam for a 16-year-old might be a general health check-up and information about safe sexual practices. A woman wanting to become pregnant might need to address issues such as prenatal vitamins and folic acid needs.
“We meet people where they’re at,” she said, adding that pap smears are never mandatory.
She also said women wanting to know more about wellness exams can arrange an informational first appointment to discuss what their best options could be.
The health center has seven nurse practitioners and two physicians on staff who are qualified to administer the exams.
The exams are free of charge to all students taking six or more credit hours. However, lab work, such as STD or STI testing, incurs an at-cost fee.
For more information call the Student Health and Counseling Center at 907-786-4040.