Monday, November 17, 2008
Medical Reports: Private Pap
Many women fear cervical cancer and know they should get a pap smear once a year to check for it. Yet, some still skip their yearly appointment. As Seven's Lynn Martinez shows us, one local doctor has come up with a way for women to get tested on their own with a Private Pap.
WSVN -- Women have many reasons why they put off their annual checkup. Maybe it's time, money or embarrassment. For Dorothy Smith, the reason was fear.
Dorothy Smith: "I felt like the pap smear was going to be painful, and I really didn't like doctors, so I stayed away from doctors."
A decision that almost cost her life.
Dorothy Smith: "I started seeing spots of blood and that alerted me that something was wrong, so I immediately went to the doctor. They said, 'Well, Dorothy you're stage three cervical cancer.'"
It's patients like Dorothy who keep gynecologist Richard Conlin up at night. He's watched many women suffer or die unnecessarily from a cancer that, if caught early enough, can be cured.
Dr. Richard Conlin: "There's 20 million women who choose not to go to the gynecologist for a pap smear. These people have a huge chance to walk into a doctor's office or clinic with advanced cervical cancer disease."
In hopes of getting more women tested, Dr. Conlin helped design the self-pap. It's a pap smear test women can do in the privacy of their home.
Dr. Richard Conlin: "This is looking for abnormal cells that may be indicative of early dysplasia or cervical cancer. In addition, it screens for HPV."
Here's how it works. This tubular device is inserted into the vagina along with the same broom used to get a sample in the doctor's office. You turn the broom, and it sweeps the cervix and the cervical canal for cells.
Dr. Richard Conlin: "We recommend 10 turns. This allows the brush to obtain the cervical cells from many different angles throughout."
Once you're done, the sample is dropped into this bottle with a chemical that saves the cells for testing. You'll then mail it to a lab or drop it by a doctor's office.
Barbara Cambia: "There was a year that I know I actually missed the annual exam, went almost two years before I really got into the gynecologist's office."
Dr. Conlin asked his patient, Barbara Cambia to try the self pap.
Barbara Cambia: "Believe it or not, it was really easy. I did it within one minute. It didn't hurt."
She also got a pap at the doctor's office to see if there was a difference in the results.
Barbara Cambia: "I got to see the results from both pap smears and really there was no difference, except that it was much easier and it saves a lot of time."
Dr. Richard Conlin: "Of the 600 we've done, there haven't been any failures or complications or no injuries."
Right now, the self pap is going through the FDA approval process. Dr. Conlin hopes it will be approved and available by next year.
Dr. Richard Conlin: "It will save lives, and for me that's important."
And important for women like Dorothy who wouldn't have to endure radiation for a late stage cancer that could have been caught early.
Dorothy Smith: "I'd like to tell all women out there, get your pap smear. The life that you save could be your own."
Lynn Martinez: "Dr. Conlin wants to stress this is not a replacement for going to the doctor. Women still need to get a physical exam."