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What is pap smear test?

Dr. Sahana K P

Dr. Sahana K P

  Basaveshwara nagar, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   2 min     

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A Pap smear or a Pap test is a screening procedure done to detect the presence of possible cervical cancer. It is done to test for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. 

WHO SHOULD HAVE A PAP TEST? 

Women should start getting a pap smear done regularly after the age of 21. If you are a sexually active woman, you are more likely to need a regular pap test. 

If you are over 30 and have had normal pap tests, you can ask your doctor combining the test with a human papillomavirus (HPV) screening. The primary causes of cervical cancer are HPV types 16 and 18. If you have HPV, you may have an increased risk for developing cervical cancer. 

Women over the age of 65 who have a history of normal Pap smear result may be able to stop taking the test. 

If you are HIV positive or if you had chemotherapy that has weakened your immune system, you are more likely to need a pap test. 

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE TEST? 

Pap smear test is a quick but a bit uncomfortable process. You lie on a table with your feet placed in stirrups. You spread your legs and the doctor inserts a metal or plastic tool in your vagina. The doctor will use a swab to take a sample of cells from your cervix. This will be sent to the lab for review. 

WHAT DOES THE RESULT MEAN? 

There are two possible results that could come out of a Pap smear: normal or abnormal.  

  • NORMAL PAP SMEAR 

If your tests are normal that means no abnormal cells were identified. Normal results are referred to as negative.  

  • ABNORMAL PAP SMEAR 

Abnormal Pap smear doesn’t mean you have cancer but indicates a presence of abnormal cells on your cervix that could be precancerous. You could have slight inflammation. These often clear up on their own. If the abnormal cells haven’t cleared up on their own, the doctor would recommend a colposcopy to get a closer look at your cervical tissue. 

It is advisable to get a Pap smear test in consultation with your doctor to detect any abnormal cells and prevent the formation of cancerous cells. 

Tags:  cancer,women's health,

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