Expert Advice: Sorting Out Confusion Over Women’s Routine Exams
For many women the beginning of the year is the start of appointments for routine exams they’ve been putting off but need to do now – and that includes the annual gynecological examination.
The typical annual gynecologic visit is changing for women across the U.S. What was once routine – an annual Pap test, along with a breast and pelvic exam – may not be any more. Many women are confused and concerned about the changes, which means now is the time for them to talk with their health care providers about the important tests and exams they should expect.
For example, cervical cancer screening is one of the most important routine exams a woman needs throughout her adulthood. And while the Pap test has played a large role in making cervical cancer one of the most preventable and rare cancers in the U.S., approximately 12,000 women are still diagnosed each year, which is unnecessary since it can be detected before it progresses. Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and, as such, cervical cancer screening has evolved to include an HPV test in combination with a Pap test (Pap+HPV together) as the preferred method for women ages 30-65.
Recent research shows that screening for cervical cancer with Pap+HPV together detects more cancer and pre-cancer, but women may not understand the importance of asking their health care provider about both tests. A survey conducted by the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH) and HealthyWomen (HW) also found that only 34 percent of women are familiar with the role of the HPV test in cervical cancer screening.
The bottom line is: appropriate screening and early detection can save women’s lives. Women should feel empowered to talk with their health care providers about the important cancer screenings they may need.
“Nurse Barb” Barbara Dehn, a well-known women’s health nurse practitioner, joined me for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month to discuss women’s reoutine exams, the latest cervical cancer screening guidelines, including what tests women need, why they need them and at what age they are recommended.
Take a look at our chat below.
For more information and resources on women’s routine exams, including help to navigate through cervical cancer screening, visit papplushpv.com.
Meet Our Guest:
Barb Dehn (‘Nurse Barb’) is a practicing Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, award winning author, and a nationally recognized health expert. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston College and earned her master’s degree at the University of California, San Francisco. An in demand and popular national speaker on all aspects of women’s health, she also lectures at Stanford and is a frequent health expert on television. She has appeared on CBS, ABC, CNN, Good Morning America Now and NBC’s iVillageLive.
Barb practices with Women Physicians in the heart of Silicon Valley. She has over 20 years of experience listening to and caring for women. She has helped countless women and couples navigate their way through infertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. She’s adept at listening, validating and explaining complicated health matters in a straightforward, easy to understand, warm and friendly style.
Barb has received numerous awards and accolades for her work as a Nurse Practitioner, author and advocate for improved healthcare as well as for her work in philanthropy, corporate initiatives, and within the Silicon Valley community. As a Nurse Practitioner, media personality, and in-demand national speaker, she is often approached to collaborate on passion projects and programs that are close to her heart.