Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington –
Cervical Cancer Screening Available at NHB
By Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer – Walk-in availability for cervical cancer screening – also known as a Pap test or Pap smear – will begin at Naval Hospital Bremerton’s OB/GYN clinic, Sept. 2, 2022.
NHB strongly advocates the screening for all women, especially between the ages of 21 and 65.
The screening clinic will be held every Friday from 8 a.m. until noon, except closed for federal holidays and on days of limited activity.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer D. Squazza, Naval Hospital Bremerton Obstetrics and Gynecology department, doctor of nursing practice, advanced registered nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife, a Pap smear or cervical cytology screening is a simple test to look at cells taken from the cervix.
“Pap tests are important for women’s health care if you are 21 years of age or older. It tells your doctor if there are any abnormal cells on the cervix that may lead to cancer. The Pap test does not detect cancer in other parts of the body. Your healthcare provider may also recommend screening for the human papilloma virus (HPV), a group of related viruses, a few of which are linked to cervical changes. Most women with HPV do not develop precancerous of the cervix. Genital HPV can be passed from person to person through sexual contact,” explained Squazza.
Screening should be done every three years for those ages 21 to 29, and every five years for those ages 30 to 65.
“If not sexually active, or having menstrual periods, it is [also] recommended to continue having Pap tests after menopause,” noted Squazza.
Only women can get cervical center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms that all women are at risk for getting it. It occurs most often in women over age 30. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in women worldwide. Yet because it takes time to develop, it is also highly preventable. Still, about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer each year and approximately 4,000 women die from it.
“Cervical cancer starts in the cells lining the cervix – the lower part of the uterus (womb). The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the vagina. Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control,” Squazza said.
Squazza attests that the Pap test is the best way to find cell changes that may lead to cancer of the cervix.
“Routine Pap tests can help find problems early. If a Pap test finds abnormal cells, your healthcare provider will suggest further tests or treatment,” said Squazza.
The walk-in service is for any eligible patient – active duty, retiree, dependent – to have access for a Pap smear. Patients will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. For those who prefer a scheduled appointment, it is advised to request a primary care manager referral or simply speak to the OB/GYN clinic nurse to help coordinate a suitable date and time.
The entire screening visit will last approximately 30 minutes. Patients are advised to wear comfortable attire and if needed, a gown can be provided by the clinic. It is also recommended to avoid douching, intercourse, vaginal medications, creams and jellies for two days prior to the screening procedure. For those in their menstrual cycle, it is best to postpone the procedure to prevent inadequate – or uncertain - results.
Navy Medicine reminds all active duty personnel, as well as activated reservists, to ensure their Pap Test is up to date before deploying, including factoring in the time needed to for walk-in availability or schedule an appointment and obtain results, which is usually approximately two months out.
NHB’S OB/GYN clinic offers other screenings available for sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Patients should consult with their provider to coordinate, as well as discuss if the HPV vaccine – a three shot series – is needed.
For those without a primary care manager or provider, the OB/GYN clinic is staffed regularly with female providers. Please ask if assistance is needed.
Lt. Cmdr. Leslye Green, staff obstetrician and gynecologist, Naval Hospital Pensacola (NHP), uses a model to discuss cervical cancer with a patient at NHP. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cervical cancer is highly preventable because screening tests for cervical cancer and vaccines to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer, are readily available. Cervical cancer is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life when it is detected early.