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Tia D. Olds, MD, is a radiation oncologist at New York Oncology Hematology, a practice in The US Oncology Network, in Albany, NY. She earned her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, interning at Saint Vincent’s Medical Center in Staten Island, NY, and serving her residency in radiation oncology at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY.

A member of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, Dr. Olds has earned multiple honors and awards, including the Morehouse School of Medicine Academic Achievement Award, the Janet Glasgow National Academic Citation, the Morehouse School of Medicine Award for Laudable Achievement in Internal Medicine, and recognition from the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.

Here are Dr. Olds’ answers to your questions:

Isn’t it recommended that anyone who is sexually active needs to have an annual Pap exam regardless of age?

The current recommendations are a bit different than they were in the past. Now, the recommendations are based on age and individual risk factors like prior abnormal Pap smears, etc.

I was just diagnosed with stage 1 cancer last Friday and my question is can you earnestly recommend a holistic treatment approach? If so, can you direct me to a plan with the most successful results?

I’m not sure what cancer type you have (breast, lung, etc.) but I would suggest that any holistic treatment be used along with traditional treatment, not as a substitute. Please speak to your healthcare provider about the role of holistic treatment in conjunction with standard therapy. Good luck.

I had my annual pap done two weeks ago and my doctor’s office called to tell me it was abnormal but everything is OK, just follow up next year. They also said the HPV (human papillomavirus)  is normal. What exactly is an abnormal Pap?

It’s good to hear that HPV testing was negative. I would call the office to find out what was abnormal about the Pap test. A yeast infection, for instance, can result in an abnormal Pap, but I would not wait until next year to find out why. Call and find out the details and ask to have the test repeated if necessary.

Hi, Doc! Both of my grandmothers had cervical cancer. Do you get this from a promiscuous man?

There are many causes of cervical cancer and HPV exposure is just one of them. HPV can be acquired during sexual intercourse but does not mean that the one or more of the partners were promiscuous. I would suggest you make sure that you have communicated your family history to your healthcare provider and are being screened for cervical cancer appropriately. Check out Cancer.org and CDC.gov for more information.

Are there any links between cervical cancer and birth control pills?

Reducing the use of oral contraceptives can decrease the risk of cervical cancer. For instance, using oral contraceptives for greater than 5 years doubles risk of developing cervical cancer, but this risk returns to normal after 10 years of not using oral contraceptives. Please discuss this with your healthcare provider for further specifics.

Do women need to continue having Pap smears after a hysterectomy?

If the cervix was removed, then there is no need for Pap smears.

I have had a complete hysterectomy; however, about 1/2 inch of my cervix remains. Do I need an annual Pap smear?

You may benefit from Pap smears but you should definitely discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Can certain birth control methods give you cancer?

Birth control does not give you cancer per se, but can increase the risk of certain cancers (cervix, uterine, breast) depending upon the type and dose. Please discuss with your healthcare provider.

Does oral sex cause cancer??? 

Oral sex can spread the HPV virus which has been linked with cancers involving the mouth and throat. Using protection (i.e. plastic dental dams or non-microwaveable plastic wrap) can decrease the risk of transmission but are not a 100% effective.

If you had breast cancer (I”m an 11-year surviver) should I be tested every year for cervical cancer? I am also the sole cancer survivor in my family – my mom died in ’94, my sister in 2002 of lung cancer, and my brother of prostate cancer in 2013.

You didn’t mention a history of cervical cancer and since some of the risk factors for cervical are different than breast cancer, I would suggest following the standard guidelines for Pap smears depending upon your age. I would encourage you to have a pelvic exam EVERY YEAR.

Can a man get HPV and if so, how?

HPV can be spread by oral sex as well as sexual intercourse. Barrier protection (condoms, dental dams, non-microwaveable plastic wrap) can decrease the rate of transmission as well getting the HPV vaccination if between the ages of 9-26. Ask you healthcare provider of check your state’s dept. of health website as well CDC.gov for more information.

Where does the HPV virus reside naturally and why or how does it cause cervical cancer?

It resides in the cells that line the mouth, throat, vagina and anal regions. Over time, it changes the cells lining these areas and these changes can become cancerous.

As a young adult female if you are not  are not having sexual intercourse do you recommend having a Pap?

Good question. How often you are screened would depend upon your age and whether you have had abnormal Pap smears in the past. Check with your healthcare provider for specifics given your situation.

Doctor, are women who have had a partial or full hysterectomy susceptible to ovarian cancer? The risk is greatly reduced in both situations.

Years ago I had a cyst removed from my ovary the size of a grapefruit. Why are some women prone to this problem? Yes, I went to the OB-GYN doctor on a regular basis. Had to go once a month. Refused to have the operation when he told me to. When the pain got unbearable, I had the operation. 

I don’t know what type of tumor was removed but it is known that certain ovarian cysts can be associated with the development of cancer.  You definitely need to be followed closely and should not wait if other cysts are found and surgical removal is suggested.

I have an 11-year old daughter. Her pediatrician suggested her to begin the HPV series. I don’t feel like this vaccination is really necessary. How long has this vaccine exist? Why should I get this for her? Another shot! Another drug insurance companies benefit from! 

HPV can cause cervical cancer as well as certain head and neck cancers along with anal cancer. I would suggest giving this vaccination strong consideration. Please visit websites like CDC.org and others for more information with regard to how effective it is and why the recommendations for this vaccine are pretty strong. Don’t let fear and misinformation prevent you from doing something that could really help your daughter in the future.  Cervical cancer affects and kills African American women twice as much as Caucasian women.

What is a dental dam and can you explain any negative impact on women participating in oral sex?

A dental dam is square pieces of latex that can be placed along an area prior to engaging in oral sex. The impact on pleasure will certainly be different initially, but sexual activity involves a lot of components so the use of this protective device should not be thought as negative. Instead, place emphasis on other erogenous zones while using this device which may enhance the overall intimacy.

How often should a 46-year-old woman be getting a Pap smear? I’ve been getting an annual Pap smear every year since I was in my early 20’s. I’ve always thought that it was very important, help me please.

The current guideline suggest that a Pap smear every 3 years or a Pap smear with HPV testing every 5 years based on your age.  Check out CDC.org for more details then discuss with your healthcare provider.

My daughter had the 1st two HPV vaccine shots and missed the appointment for the 3rd shot last year. Is there a time limit for the 3rd and final shot?

Yes, check with your healthcare provider.

Women are recommended to have colonoscopy test at age 45, but insurance does not cover it 100% unless you’re age 50. How can get insurance to cover 100% before age 50?

I’m unaware of screening guidelines suggesting a colonoscopy at age 45 unless you have a family history of colon cancer or have some other medical condition that has caused you to need this examination.  If your healthcare provider is recommending a colonoscopy at 45, he/she should be able to document why this is necessary to the insurance company.  Please check with your healthcare provider.

What”s a symptom/sign of cervical cancer that would warrant you to go to the doctor?

The signs and symptoms are not very specific but I would say you should see a healthcare professional if you note an unusual discharge, pain during intercourse, painful bowel movements, loss of bladder or bowel control.

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