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Do U still need to have a Pap smear if you’ve had a hysterectomy?

If your cervix was removed at the time of your surgery, and your uterus was removed for any reason other than cervical cancer or pre-cancer, you don’t need to have Pap smears moving forward. It’s important to ask your doctor to make sure your cervix was removed at the time of your hysterectomy- if it was let in place, you still need to get regular screening with Pap smears or HPV tests.

Dr. Brown, why can’t adults get the vaccines like the kids for HPV?

HPV vaccine is not currently recommended in the U.S. for men or women older than 26 years old. This is because most people are exposed to HPV for the first time during their late teens and early 20’s and the vaccine is most effective when given before you are exposed to HPV.

But there is no known harm to getting the HPV vaccine at an older age. In Australia, the vaccine is recommended for women up to age 45. You should discuss with your doctor whether getting HPV vaccine after age 26 is a good idea for you, but if you and your doctor decide to proceed, you may have to pay for the vaccine yourself instead of it being covered by insurance.

Can a Pap smear detect antigens associated with ovarian cancer?

Pap smears were not designed to screen for anything other than cervical cancer. But with recent liquid based methods of collecting the cells from the cervix during the Pap smear, there are other possible uses for the liquid cervical sample, including diagnosing sexually transmitted diseases and detecting cells from other cancers of the reproductive organs. Using liquid Pap smears to diagnose other cancers is not a reality yet, but research is ongoing to see if this could be helpful in the future. As of now, we still don’t have an effective screening test for ovarian or uterine cancer.

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