Pap smear is a microscopic test done on the cells removed from a woman’s cervix. The main objective of this test is to detect the presence of malignant cells. This test is named after a Greek doctor called Dr. Georgios Papanikolaou. It is a quick, painless and easy test. All sexually active women should do a Pap smear test at least every year and no later than 2 years after the first vaginal intercourse.
How to prepare for a pap smear test?
Avoid any intercourse 24 hours before the test.
Avoid using tampons, douching or taking a bath 24 hours before the test.
Inform your doctor if you are taking birth control pills or if you might be pregnant.
Avoid scheduling your pap smear when you have your periods or any kind of bleedings.
How is the test performed?
You may be asked to lie on your back. The doctor will insert a device called speculum into the vagina. With a cotton stick, the doctor will take a sample from your cervix and place it on the glass to be sent to the laboratory. You may feel some discomfort as a slight menstrual cramp but it should not be painful.
How to read the results?
The results should appear 15 days after the test. Your doctor will contact you to provide you with the outcome of the test. A normal test means that your cervix is healthy and no need for extra tests. An abnormal test can include:
Inflammation: Cervix infection due to HPV virus or many other infections.
Abnormal cells (LSIL or HSIL): The test shows the presence of abnormal cells that are not necessary cancerous cells but may be precancerous.
Carcinoma in situ (CIS): means that the precancerous cells might progress to cancer.
Signs of cancer which can be only on the cervix level or can be an advanced cancer.
When the test shows abnormal results, further testing is needed.
Pap smear test is not adequate 100%. Even the most professional physician may not swap all cervix areas to collect all cells. That is why Pap smear test should be done regularly. It is a great help for women to detect and treat cervix cancer.