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Pap Smear Test - Is The Right Procedure to Test for Cervical Cancer in Women?

Let’s know what is Pap Smear

A Pap smear, commonly known as a Pap test, is a medical examination that a doctor performs to check for cervical cancer in women. It can also reveal changes in your cervical cells that could later develop into cancer.

A Pap smear, also known as the Papanicolaou test, is a test that involves scraping cells from the cervix and examining them under a microscope.

The test is performed to look for abnormalities in cells that could indicate cervical cancer. Infection, HPV, and inflammation are examples of additional disorders. A Pap smear is the most effective way to detect precancerous diseases and hidden tumors that can progress to cervical cancer.

Why Is a Pap Smear Done?

  • A pap smear is used to detect abnormalities in cervical cells that could lead to cancer. When it comes to cancer, catching it early provides you with the best chance of beating it. If you don't, early detection of cell alterations can help you avoid cancer.

  • A Pap smear should be done on a regular basis for women between the ages of 21 and 65. The frequency with which you do so is determined by your overall health and whether or not you've ever had an abnormal Pap smear.

How Often Should I Have a Pap Smear?

  • From the ages of 21 to 65, you should get the exam every three years. Starting at the age of 30, you can have your Pap test combined with a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV). If you do so, you will only have to be tested every 5 years. The most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is HPV, which has been related to cervical cancer.

  • Your doctor may advise you to have a Pap test more frequently if you have certain health problems like:

  1. Cervical cancer or a Pap test that revealed precancerous cells

  2. HIV infection

  3. A weakened immune system due to an organ transplant, chemotherapy, or chronic corticosteroid use

  4. Having been exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth

If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor. They'll definitely give you the best advice and solutions.

So, What Exactly Happens During a Pap Smear?

  • The test is performed in a doctor's office or a clinic. It takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Your feet will be firmly in stirrups as you recline on a table.

  • Your gynecologist will place a speculum into the vagina to expand the hole and examine both the cervix and the vagina during a Pap smear.

  • The doctor next uses a small spatula or a brush to obtain a sample of the cervical cells

  • After that, the samples are placed in a solution, transferred to a small glass slide, and submitted to a laboratory for cytological analysis. But Does the Pap smear test hurt?

  • We are glad that you asked. The Pap test is painless, however, you may feel a slight pinch or pressure.

Pap Smear Results

  • They'll be delivered to your doctor in a few days. They'll either be negative (normal) or positive (abnormal).

Normal result

  • It's a positive thing if the outcome is negative. That your doctor found no precancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix is good news. You won't need another Pap until your next scheduled appointment.

Abnormal result

  • It's important to note that just because your test results are positive doesn't mean you have cancer. You could have an abnormal Pap smear for a variety of causes.

  1. Minor cell alterations or mild inflammation (dysplasia)

  2. Infection with HPV or another virus

  3. Error in a lab test for cancer or pre-cancer

What to Do If Your Pap Smear Is Abnormal?

  • Pap test results can take up to three weeks to arrive. If your test findings are normal, you can put off your next Pap smear for up to three years.

  • An abnormal test does not guarantee you have cancer; nevertheless, an abnormal test does suggest that the cells of the cervix do not appear to be normal. Because Pap smears are a screening test rather than a diagnostic test, they cannot guarantee the presence of cancer.

  • An abnormal test may indicate inflammation or mild cell changes known as dysplasia, which are cells that appear abnormal but are not malignant.

  • Whatever the situation may be, the doctor will notify you to set up a follow-up appointment. Early detection and follow-up are crucial because, in many situations, urgent treatment can prevent cervical cancer from growing.

  • The majority of non-cancerous problems that are found in a Pap smear clear up or return to normal on their own. Your doctor will most likely request a follow-up test within the next three months to confirm that this is the case.

Do you need a Pap smear if not sexually active?

  • Even if you are not sexually active, you should start cervical cancer screening if you are at least 21 years old. If you are under the age of 30, you may be able to get a cervical cancer screening every other year rather than once a year.

  • The minor unpleasantness of a Pap smear is well worth the potentially life-saving results. Pap smears are one of the most trustworthy cancer tests available today.

  • It's critical that you pay attention to your unique health requirements as a woman, rather than dismissing them.

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