Two Carroll County obstetrician-gynecologists are offering Carroll women what could be a chance at a longer life -- free Pap tests to detect possible cervical cancer.
Dr. Melvin A. Yeshnik and his partner, Dr. Michael R. Barnett, will provide the tests from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, April 16, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 17, at their offices in Suite 306 of the Billingslea Medical Building, 542 Washington Road, Westminster.
The American Cancer Society reports that approximately 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and about 7,000 die from it. "In reality, no one in this country should die from cervical cancer" because Pap smears can provide early detection of abnormalities, Dr. Yeshnik said.
Interested women are required to preregister by calling 848-4383 or 876-4698 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dr. Yeshnik estimated that the tests will take about 15 minutes each because the doctors will do just Pap smears, not review major gynecological problems.
Guidelines from the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists call for annual Pap smears for women over 18 and younger women who are sexually active.
The guidelines say that women with three consecutive negative Pap smears may be able to have less frequent tests if they aren't high risks for cervical cancer.
The free screening is a first for Dr. Yeshnik and Dr. Barnett, and may be the first of its kind in Carroll County.
The county health department provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings to women over age 50 who have no health insurance or whose health insurance does not cover the tests.
Dr. Yeshnik said the idea is to reach out to women who don't get regular Pap smears. "We felt if there was no cost to them, we might get them back into the health care system," he said.
A Pap smear usually costs $25 to $35, plus a $15 to $20 lab fee, Dr. Yeshnik said. He estimated that he and Dr. Barnett will spend about $500 or $600 to advertise the free screening and about $1,000 to $1,500 for supplies, lab fees and their time.
He said he and Dr. Barnett came up with the idea because they felt "it would be a nice gesture to the community." The two doctors timed the offer for April, National Cancer Control Month. Dr. Yeshnik said test results will be mailed to the women taking the tests or, if they prefer, to their physicians.
To take a Pap smear, an examiner uses a small spatula, cotton swab or cervical brush to scrape some cells from the cervix. The cells are smeared on a glass slide and sent to a laboratory for microscopic examination to determine abnormalities.
An abnormal test does not necessarily mean cancer, according to a publication from Mead Johnson Laboratories. But it does indicate that follow-up tests are needed to determine the source of the problem.
Dr. Yeshnik has been practicing in Carroll County for three years and was joined by Dr. Barnett 1 1/2 years ago.
Both are diplomates of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and are affiliated with Carroll County General Hospital and Greater Baltimore Medical Center.