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Cervical Cancer Screening A Walk-In at Naval Hospital Bremerton

12 January 2024

From Douglas Stutz

For anyone seeking Cmdr. Teri Ryals, Naval Hospital Bremerton OB/GYN clinic department head and certified nurse midwife on a Friday morning, there’s only one place to look.Ryals oversees NHB’s OB/GYN clinic in providing Walk-In Cervical Cancer Screening Clinic every Friday, from 8 a.m. until noon, for those 21 and older.With January designated as
For anyone seeking Cmdr. Teri Ryals, Naval Hospital Bremerton OB/GYN clinic department head and certified nurse midwife on a Friday morning, there’s only one place to look.

Ryals oversees NHB’s OB/GYN clinic in providing Walk-In Cervical Cancer Screening Clinic every Friday, from 8 a.m. until noon, for those 21 and older.

With January designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month, Ryals readily advocates the importance for women to routinely schedule their cervical cancer screening, also known as a pap smear or pap test.

“Cervical cancer can be preventable through routine screening. If detected early, it is very manageable,” said Ryals, explaining that cervical cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells which cervical cancer screening, also referred to as a pap smear/pap test, is crucial in the identification process of cancer of the cervix.

“There are also certain types of the human papillomavirus infections that have been linked to cancer,” continued Ryals. “Although there are over 100 types of HPV, there are two types, 16 and 18 which have been linked to about 70 percent of cancers and precancerous cervical lesions.”

According to compiled statistics, there are approximately 11,500 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. as cervical cancer each year, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths.

Ryals attests that all those new cases and especially the fatalities can be averted with vaccination and appropriate screening. Which makes the start of the new year as an ideal opportunity for women to be more attentive to their health.

“Screening is dependent on age, results and risk factors,” said Ryals, citing American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology guidelines which advocates screening can begin at age 21.

“Screening is [recommended] every three years for ages 21 to 29. For ages 30 to 65, screening is every five years. Patients who have abnormal screening results will require more frequent surveillance and possible treatment,” Ryals said.

Only women can get cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirms that all women are at risk for getting the disease, which occurs most often in women over age 30.

Cervical cancer is also the fourth most common type of cancer in women worldwide, following the top three of breast, colorectal and lung cancers.

Yet because it takes time to develop, it is also highly preventable.

‘Obtaining a routine pap smear is the best way to combat one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. Please make sure you participate in routine screening and consult with your primary care provider or gynecology provider for follow up treatment as indicated,” said Ryals.

In addition to regular cervical cancer screening, HPV vaccination is an important way to help protect against the HPV infections that most commonly cause cancer. HPV vaccination is recommended for persons from age nine to 45. The HPV vaccination is still beneficial even if someone has already been exposed to HPV or had an abnormal pap smear in the past.

The walk-in service is for any eligible patient – active duty, retiree, dependent – with patients seen on a first-come, first-served basis. For those who prefer a scheduled appointment, it is advised to request a referral from their physician/primary care manager or simply speaking to an OB/GYN clinic nurse to help coordinate a suitable date and time.

The entire screening visit takes approximately 30 minutes. Patients are recommended to wear comfortable attire. A gown can be provided by the clinic, if needed. It is also advocated 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.

For active duty personnel, along with activated reservists, it is advisable to ensure their pap test screening is up to date before deploying. This includes factoring in the time needed for walk-in availability or scheduling an appointment followed by obtaining the results.

NHB’S OB/GYN clinic also offers other screenings available, including those 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.

Along with the Walk-In Cervical Cancer Screening Clinic on Friday, although closed for federal holidays and on days of limited activity, there are two more readily offered clinics.

The nurse-run, self-collected vaginal discharge clinic for eligible patients 18 to 65 is held Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The Walk-In Contraceptive Clinic for eligible patients 13 and older is available on Wednesday, from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Services offered include contraception counseling on the range of birth control options available; Prescription - for pills, patch, ring – which can be placed at the time requested for Pharmacy pickup (or retail pharmacy if so chosen); Same-day insertion of IUDs and Nexplanon (if pregnancy is ruled out); Emergency Contraception pill options; Depo-Provera Injections can be provided without requiring a pharmacy visit; Vasectomy preoperative referrals; and Prophylactics.

Services for the walk-in clinics is on a first-come, first-served basis and available to all eligible beneficiaries – active duty, retirees, family member – requesting the services. Wait times and appointment availability may vary due to clinic volume. For more information on NHB’s OB/GYN support and services, please call 360-475-4995.

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