Teela Sorensen, MD

It was after the birth of her three children that Dr. Teela Sorensen took up her quest to be a physician. Today, she’s a lively and respected OB/GYN practicing at Tanner Clinic Syracuse who empathizes with women whose lives are too busy.

After receiving her B.S. in zoology at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, Dr. Sorensen joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

She received her M.D. at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Her residency in obstetrics and gynecology was completed at Saginaw Cooperative Hospitals, Saginaw, Mich. While there, she was named chief resident.

Dr. Sorensen was a physician at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital at Fort Polk, La., where she served as chief of the OB/GYN department for four years. She separated as a major from the Army Medical Corps.

Dr. Sorensen, who is board certified in OB/GYN, has been with Tanner Clinic since 1999. Expanding her influence, she also served as chief of staff at Davis Hospital and Medical Center. She now sees gynecology patients only and accepts appointments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

In her spare time, you’ll find Dr. Sorensen watching her grandchildren’s sports events, traveling or quilting.

What patients are saying about Dr. Sorensen

“She’s helped me through some tough and scary times. I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for her!”   —  Stephanie on Facebook, Sept. 22, 2014

“Please find some way to thank Dr. Sorensen for the extraordinary kindness she showed to me and my daughter during a period of crisis in our family. She was exceptionally professional and extremely compassionate and caring. Thank you so much, Dr. Sorensen, for really caring about your patients.”   —  Nina, in-office comment card, Aug. 1, 2014

“Quick, compassionate, courteous, knowledgeable, helpful, friendly, smiling. Dr. Sorensen is the best, or I wouldn’t come from North Ogden to see her!”   —  Facebook.com, May 28, 2014

“I love her. Wish she would deliver babies again. She performed both of my c-sections beautifully and really cared about me. I am a high-risk pregnant person and she monitored me so well and jumped whenever the emergency came. I also had kidney stones after my last pregnancy and she was great to refer me to a great urologist, and she came and visited me before the kidney stone surgery at the hospital. Talk about going above and beyond. She is so genuine and kind. I believe she was thinking of my well-being as well as my babies.”   —  Vitals.com, Oct. 21, 2012

As Women Age, Pap Smears Become Less Necessary.

Guidelines have changed so that most women do not need an annual Pap test. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less important, says Dr. Teela Sorensen, a gynecologist at Tanner Clinic Syracuse.

The Pap test looks for the human papillomavirus (HPV), among other abnormalities. As more is learned about this virus, experts have revised the guidelines to more efficiently prevent HPV, as well as the cervical cancer it causes, she said.

It’s seems to be working. In the 1930s, cervical cancer was the most deadly cancer among women. It killed more women than breast or lung cancer combined. Today, deaths from cervical cancer are at record lows. “We really shouldn’t have any cervical cancer today,” said Dr. Sorensen. With preventive measures, she adds, “It should be very rare.”

However, the human papillo- mavirus is the opposite of rare. In fact, HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. “It seems to be ubiquitous in the community anymore,” said Dr. Sorensen. For instance, it’s estimated at 85 percent of college-aged people carry the virus.

New guidelines for Pap tests

The danger of this ubiquitous virus is that it can cause changes to the cells in the cervix, the area between the uterus and the vagina. Those altered cells are often precancerous and, if left untreated, can advance to invasive cervical cancer.

So, it may seem contrary to logic that the new guidelines, adopted in 2012, reduce the need for HPV testing.

That’s because, says Dr. Sorensen, those cervical changes often don’t show up for many years. If cell changes occur in women in their 20s, she adds, “They will clear up in most cases.”

Here are the new guidelines:

Women aged 21 to 29: Pap test every three years. The new rules specifically recommend against annual Pap testing.

Women age 30 to 64: Pap test every three years. If the Pap test is negative for HPV and abnormal cells, Pap tests can be conducted every five years.

Woman age 65 and older: Screening is not recommended for those who have had three or more normal Pap tests in the past 10 years.

Women who’ve had hysterectomies: No Pap test is required.

Women whose results are positive for HPV should repeat the exam and be tested to determine the specific strain of HPV.

If further testing reveals precancerous cells, a colposcopy biopsy is performed. Less often, a portion of the cervix will need to be removed. The LEEP procedure (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure), as it’s called, uses a low-voltage electrified wire loop to excise the cells.

Gardisil prevents against HPV infection

With the advent of vaccinations such as Gardasil less than a decade ago, cervical cancer becomes the only cancer prevented by a vaccine. The vaccination blocks the four most common strains of HPV — these strains are also the ones that cause cervical cancer as well as genital warts.

The vaccination is recommended for adolescents and young teens with the goal of stopping the virus well before they become sexually active. However, any young woman up to 26 years old can receive the immunization. “It just doesn’t work as well in women who are older,” Dr. Sorensen said.

Unlike Pap tests, regular physicals still yearly

Pap tests may not be yearly milestones, but physical exams should continue to be conducted annually, said Dr. Sorensen. Women need breast and thyroid exams, she said. In addition to heart and lung checks, labs are taken for cholesterol, glucose, thyroid and blood health.

Plus, Dr. Sorensen always tests for hyper- or hypothyroidism — as well as cancer. “Since I’ve been here in Utah,” she said, “I’ve found thyroid cancer in four women just by feeling their neck and thyroid in an annual exam.”

Dr. Sorensen has a firm belief in the importance of annual exams because the majority of women she sees are running on empty, she said. Indeed, up to four in five of every patient in her practice complain of fatigue.

“Women are just tired. We cram too much into our lives,” she said. “It’s hard being a woman these days because we have such hectic lives.”

For those sleepy women, she adds, the annual visits can be a mood-lifter. “I’ve had babies. I’ve had a hysterectomy. I think I can relate pretty well to what women go through,” she said. “We laugh a lot. We laugh about husbands and kids and what we go through with them. We just have a pretty good time.”