19 Dec PAP smear
Alternative Names: Papanicolaou test
A PAP (Papanicolaou) smear is an examination, under a microscope, of cells taken from the cervix (opening of the uterus or womb) to make sure that these cells are not abnormal or cancerous. Once the doctor has scraped some cells from the cervix, the sample is sent for analysis. Some bleeding may occur after the test. Regular PAP smears are very important because the early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer can save your life.
What is it?
A PAP smear refers to a microscopic examination of cells taken from the cervix. It is usually performed in your doctor’s rooms and takes less than 30 minutes.
Why is it done?
A PAP smear is done to detect abnormalities in the cells of the cervix (opening of the uterus/womb). It is often done as a routine screening procedure. The main concern is to diagnose pre-cancerous or cancerous changes in the cervix.
Before – how to prepare
You should avoid sexual intercourse for 24 hours before the test. No other special preparations are required although you will be more comfortable if you empty your bowel and bladder immediately before the procedure.
During – how the test is done
You will need to lie on your back, probably with your feet in “the stirrups”. The doctor will insert a speculum (a device that holds the vagina open so the doctor can see the cervix) into your vagina. A sample/scraping of tissue is taken from the cervix, using a brush, a wooden spatula, or another small instrument. The sample is placed on a glass slide and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
After the test
You will probably have some vaginal bleeding and will want to wear a pad for a day or so. Any excessive bleeding should be reported to your doctor.
Risks and Compilations
There is a slight risk of heavy bleeding and an even smaller risk of infection.
It is important that all women have regular examinations, including PAP smears. The key is to realise that, as with so many cancers, early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer improves outlook significantly. It is wise to ask your doctor just how frequently you should have a PAP smear done as this may vary from one woman to another.
A PAP (Papanicolaou) smear is an examination, under a microscope, of cells taken from the cervix (opening of the uterus or womb) to make sure that these cells are not abnormal or cancerous.
PAP smear, papanicolaou smear, papanicolaou test, Papanicolaou test