Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
Why do women get a Pap smear every year?
A: Very few cancers can be identified so far ahead of the danger point as cancer of the cervix. The cells lining the surface of the cervix begin to show changes visible under a microscope as much as a decade or more before invasive cancer develops, in plenty of time for definitive treatment. For this reason, a regular properly performed and interpreted Pap smear is one of medicine’s most effective preventive methods.