This article was originally published by The Cornell Daily Sun on February 14, 2014. Some changes have been made to this version.
A 25 year-old woman comes to clinic for her routine Papanicolau (Pap) smear during my ob-gyn rotation. A few days later she receives a phone call from the gynecology resident. “Your Pap smear results were abnormal,” the doctor told her, “and we would like to take a biopsy of your cervix, which we do under an exam called a colposcopy.” She is told that this abnormality was caused by a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the same virus family that causes common warts.
“HPV?” she asks, “isn’t that a sexually transmitted infection?”
“It is, in fact it is the most common STI in the US.”
“I didn’t think that I was at risk for HPV… I have not had many partners… and we almost always use protection… and I think maybe I was vaccinated… Does this mean I’m going to get cancer?”
Continue reading “HPV: Could It Happen To You?”
Welcome to Medicine Simply, a blog that addresses your health questions. During my clinical rotations, I often observed a disconnect between what doctors understood about patients’ conditions and what knowledge patients took home with them. Doctors are fluent in “Medicalese,” or the specialized terminology of medicine, and they know where to find authoritative information. Patients, on the other hand, are not usually fluent in Medicalese, nor do they have access to those authoritative sources. During the time-limited patient encounter, medical professionals relay the most important information to patients in “Layspeak,” or layman’s terms. Often, however, patients seek more. Having accurate background information is helpful in equipping patients with the tools to participate fully in their care. The intent of this blog is to help close the knowledge gap by providing information on health topics that affect a wide audience. The next post, for example, will be about the ever-prevalent HPV virus.
As a medical student, I have one foot in the land of Layspeak and another in the land of Medicalese. I would like to use my predicament to best suit you, the reader. If I traveled to a country whose language I did not speak fluently and whose system I was unfamiliar with, I would appreciate having a guide by my side assisting me on my voyage. In this blog, I will be your guide and translator on a number of health topics.
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Disclaimer: These posts are my personal interpretation of the primary sources. My views do not represent those of any institution of higher learning or of any group. This blog is not in any way a substitute for your physician or other healthcare provider’s advice, diagnosis, treatment, or care and it does not intend to provide those. If you believe that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider. If you believe that you have a medical emergency, call 911.
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