Friday, December 4, 2009

Promoting the benefits of Pap smears

The inspiration for creating the CBS Cares public service Pap smears web campaign -- featuring MGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Chief Isaac Schiff, MD, and gynecologic surgeon Marcela G. del Carmen, MD, MPH -- began when a CBS Cares producer overheard a conversation between two women while dining at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan's West Village.

"I was waiting for my appetizer, when I overheard two women diners talking about Pap smears," writes the producer in a narrative on the CBC Cares website. "The one in her 40s said she hated Pap smears. The one in her 30s enthusiastically agreed. And they both said they do whatever they can to postpone them."

Compelled to find a way to change the mindset of his fellow diners and the many other women with similar opinions, the producer reached out to Schiff, who he describes as "a legendary gynecologist at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital with whom CBS Cares had worked on other women’s health issues."

Schiff shared his insight during that call -- which happened to occur on the eve of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) announcement of the new Pap smear recommendations -- saying that many women, especially those who are older, think it's all right to skip their Pap smears, sometimes with fatal consequences. He wholeheartedly endorsed that all women should have regularly scheduled Pap smear tests.

Joining the conversation, del Carmen added that Pap smears remain one of the most important health screenings a woman can have. An essay written by del Carmen also is featured on the CBS Cares webpage and includes information about the incidence of cervical cancer and death rates among Hispanic-Latino and African American groups and addresses the ACOG's new guidelines.

"It is of critical importance to fold these underserved populations into Pap smear screening programs and educate them on the role Pap smears play in preventing cervical cancer and subsequently saving lives," she writes. "Cervical cancer is a preventable disease with the use of Pap smear screenings. We implore you to be vigilant in protecting your health by calling your doctor and scheduling your Pap smear today!"

Back to Top