Pap Test/ Pap Smear Test
1. What is a Pap Test?
Pap test is a screening method that distinguishes pre-cancer and cancer cells of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.
2. Who needs a Pap test?
Guidelines advise that women get regular Pap test every three years starting at age 21. Some women may be at a higher risk of cancer or infection. You may need more regular tests if:
- You’re HIV-positive
- You have a weak immune system from chemotherapy or an organ transplant.
3. How is a Pap Test Conducted?
The Pap test can be mildly uncomfortable but is not painful. The doctor inserts a “speculum” into your vagina. This instrument enables your doctor to examine and collect cells from your cervix with a tool related to a long Q-tip. The collected cells are “smeared” on to a microscope slide and observed for abnormal cells
4. How often do you need a Pap test?
How often you need a Pap smear depends on various factors, including your age and risk.
Ages 21-29: every three years (provided previous Pap tests have been normal)
Ages 30-65: every five years, along with HPV testing
After age 65: not recommended (provided previous Pap tests have been normal
5. What can I do if the Pap Test is Abnormal?
Consult your doctor. They may recommend follow-up tests or more frequent Pap test screenings.
6. How Effective is the Pap Test?
When women are screened routinely and follow up on abnormal results, the Pap test can reduce cervical cancer death by 80 per cent. The Pap test does not find all cervical cancers. However, over 50% of all invasive cervical cancers in the U.S. occur in women that have never had a Pap smear.
7. Can I decrease my chances of Cervical Cancer?
Yes. If you get regular Pap tests, practise safe sex, get the HPV vaccine, and don’t smoke. These steps can reduce the risk of cervical cancer.