Dr. Soliman explains whether you need to have yearly gynecologic exams after receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and shares why it is important to see a gynecologic oncologist once diagnosed with gynecologic cancer.
Even in women who have gotten the HPV vaccine, as these girls are now getting older it’s still critically important for women to have their routine annual exam with their physician.
As part of this exam, a pelvic exam is performed, a Pap smear is also performed, usually on an annual basis.
If women have several normal Pap smears then it can then go to every three years but even if you are not getting a Pap smear every year it’s still critical to see a physician on a yearly basis.
So the HPV vaccine is very effective in preventing HPV and hopefully preventing cervical cancer but it doesn’t replace the general recommendation for annual exams with your physician.
A lot of women don’t realize that when they have a cancer diagnosis it’s really important to see someone who specializes in that disease.
There are gynecologists that do hysterectomies or do other procedures and it’s easy to think, well, if I just need this procedure then I can go to any doctor that performs that.
The difference is as a cancer doctor we see the big picture. So we do the surgery, we also do the chemotherapy and coordinate with the radiation oncologist.
So it’s important from the beginning that you get the best evaluation upfront and so that you can get the best care all around.
If you are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer it’s really important to get the best information you can from the very start.
Gynecologic oncologists specialize in the treatment of women’s cancers and all we do every day is see patients with ovarian cancer, cervix cancer and uterine cancer.
And we work together with radiation oncologists and other surgeons to provide the best care.
And I think it’s really important when you are diagnosed with a cancer to really seek help from the people who have the most experience and have seen the most patients with the disease that you have so that you can get the best treatment options.
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Division of Surgery, at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Soliman earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and she earned her master of public health from The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston.
Visit Dr. Soliman at MD Anderson Cancer Center