Preventing cervical cancer often depends on early detection. With a strong background in women’s health and preventive medicine, Dr. Mirela Mircea and Dr. Vivian Lugo-Eschenwald of Family Medicine Associates of Alexandria in Alexandria, Virginia are your ideal choice for cervical cancer screening using a Pap smear. Call today to book an appointment.
The Pap smear, or Pap test, collects cells from the patient’s cervix. The cells are tested for active cancer cells or abnormalities which suggest cancer may form. After age 21, most women should have a Pap smear done every 3 years, typically as part of a pelvic exam. After age 30, the Pap smear may be combined with testing for the human papillomavirus, or HPV. This is a common sexually transmitted disease that may contribute to cervical cancer in older women. Generally, women over age 65 no longer require Pap testing, nor do those who have had a hysterectomy for reasons other than cancer.
Yes. Patients who have previously had cervical cancer or an abnormal Pap test with precancerous results may be advised to test more often. Those with weakened immune systems, such as through chemotherapy, organ transplant, chronic use of corticosteroids, or HIV may also need extra tests. Patients exposed to the synthetic hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) before they were born may be particularly susceptible to cervical cancer and should be monitored closely. Fortunately, birth control pills using DES have not been prescribed since 1978.
The test itself poses little risk to the patient. However, the results aren’t always correct. False negative tests do occur when abnormal cells exist but aren’t caught in the Pap smear. This may be due to too few cells overall, or few abnormal cells in the sample. Other cells may confuse results as well. Cervical cancer takes some time to develop, so a false-negative test result will likely be caught during the next Pap smear.
If possible, try not to schedule a Pap smear during your menstrual period. The test can still be performed, with a slightly increased risk of a false-negative result. Also, avoid using vaginal medicine, spermicides, douching, or having sexual intercourse for a few days before the test for best results.
We accept most major insurances. Please see the full list of plans that we accept. If you do not see yours, please call our office to see how we can help. We will file out of network insurances but visit must be paid at checkout in full.
"Fantastic doctors & staff; they take the time to truly understand patients and put them at ease. The doctors do a great job giving you their rationale..."
"She has a phenomenal, empathetic bedside manner; I never feel rushed, she asks lots of questions, and makes me an active participant in decisions about my care."
"Had my first visit there a month or so ago. It went exactly as I wanted. I waited only a few minutes, the staff was professional. They answered all of my questions."
"...FMAA has been a loyal and consistent part of my family staying healthy while overcoming a myriad of different issues."
"I'm usually really uncomfortable with doctors offices, but the staff here is all very friendly...Billing was really easy- they have online payment..."
"I have been trying to find a good doctor for many years. My first visit here was excellent. Professional and courteous..."
"Dr. Vivian Lugo is a very professional - ethics, knowledge and experience. She has been my primary physician for 11 years...She is the best!"
"Dr. Vivian Lugo is a very caring and professional MD. The feeling of being listened to and care for is achieved when seeing Dr Lugo. She is thorough and clear..."
"I've been going to Family Medicine for three years. Usually can get an appointment with Dr. Mircea within a week..."