Overview: What is a Pap Smear Test? A pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure done to test for cervical cancer in women. It involves collecting cells from your cervix- the lower, narrow end of your uterus that is the top of your vagina.
Detecting cervical cancer early with a Pap smear gives you greater chance at a cure. A Pap smear can also detect changes in your cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future or even is able to pickup signs of inflammation from infection as well. The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better outcome for treatment success.
The Pap smear test is usually done to diagnose cervical cancer. Due to most cancers being asymptomatic, this is the gold standard for diagnosing early stages of the disease. The test can be combined with a test for Human Papillomavirus (HPV)- a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer.
All women who are sexually active should practise getting a Pap smear done at least once.. In general, doctors recommend beginning Pap smear testing at the age of 21.
Doctors generally recommend repeating Pap testing every 3 years for women aged 21 to 65.
Women age 30 and older can consider Pap testing every five years if the procedure is combined with testing for HPV.
Risk factors for more-frequent testing, regardless of your age:
To ensure Pap smear is most accurate, follow these tips:
The test takes only about a few minutes and will require you to undress from waist down.
You will be asked to lie down on your back on and exam table with your knees bent.
You doctor will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina, this will hold the vaginal walls apart so your doctor can visualise the cervix easily. There is only a mild uncomfortable sensation with NO pain.
Samples will be taken with a soft brush or a spatula.
No restrictions are necessary after the procedure. Patients can go about their daily routine as per usual comfortably.
The samples taken will be sent to the lab and your result will be ready between 3-5 working days.
NORMAL RESULT: The result will show Negative cancer cells and normal cells picked up
ABNORMAL RESULT: The result will state the cancer suspicion along with cell changes which then your doctor will guide you through the necessary next plan of action for your case.
We at DTAP Clinic, enforce routine examination for our patients, to ensure they are treated with the utmost care and are comfortable while tests are carried out. Feel free to schedule an appointment with our friendly team of doctors today.
Cervical cancer forms in the cells that line the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus (womb). The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the vagina. Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in Malaysia and is the easiest gynaecological cancer to prevent with regular pap smear tests, testing for high risk HPV infections, HPV vaccinations and follow-ups.
A Pap test can detect cervical cancer and changes in your cervical cells that may increase your risk of cervical cancer in the future. Every year, 2,145 Malaysian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is common among women in Malaysia and the 2nd most common cancer in women between 15 and 44 years of age.
Cervical screening also known as pap smear, checks the health of your cervix.
We recommend getting yourself vaccinated before you are sexually active. *All women who are, or who have been sexually active, between the ages of 20 and 65 years are required to get a pap smear test once every 3 years.
Squamous cell carcinomas begin in the thin, flat cells that line the bottom of the cervix, or the exocervix. Known as the most common type of cervical cancer, it accounts for 80 to 90 percent of cervical cancers.
Adenocarcinomas develop in the mucus-producing glandular cells that line the upper portion of the cervix, or the endocervix. This type of cancer makes up 10 to 20 percent of cervical cancers and seems to have become more common in the past 20 to 30 years.
Ideally, cervical screening should be scheduled when the patient is not menstruating.
Avoid vaginal intercourse, douching, use of tampons, use of medicinal vaginal cream or contraceptive cream for 24-48 hrs prior to cervical screening.
During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.A metal or plastic speculum is placed in the vagina to examine the cervix. Cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina will be collected. A piece of brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the cervix and vagina. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal. The procedure may cause slight discomfort but should not cause any pain. Mild light bleeding may occur post procedure.
The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called “high risk” types of HPV.
If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.
If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
You’ll get your results, usually in about 1-2 weeks. It will explain what happens next.
Results showing ASC-US (Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance)
Management of women with ASC-H (high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion)
Management of women with LSIL (Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion)
Low-risk mucosal (genital) HPV types: this type tends to cause warts and rarely cause cancer are called low-risk types. Low-risk genital HPV infection can cause warts (usually resembles cauliflower) on or around the genitals and anus of both men and women. In women, warts may appear in areas that aren’t always noticed, such as the cervix and vagina.
High-risk mucosal (genital) HPV types: these are the types of viruses that are usually linked to cancer thus called high-risk types. These types have been linked to certain cancers in both men and women.
A Pap test detects cell changes or abnormal cells in the cervix. These abnormal cells may be pre-cancer or cancer, but they may also be other things, too. Cells are lightly scraped or brushed off the cervix. The Pap test is a very good test for finding cancer cells and cells that might become cancer.
As we all know, HPV is closely linked to cervical cancer. The HPV test checks for the virus, not cell changes. There is an option called co-testing. In this co- testing, Pap smear and HPV testing will be done together. This is by far the most preferred way to find early cervical cancers or pre-cancers in women 30 and older.
*Women between ages 21 and 29 (sexually active females) should have a Pap test every 3 years to test for cervical cancer and pre-cancers. These women should not get the HPV test with the Pap test (co-testing) because HPV is so common in women these ages that it’s not helpful to test for it and also in many cases these HPV infections clear spontaneously in 1-2 yrs. However, HPV testing may be used in this age group after an abnormal Pap test result.
*It is recommended that women aged above 30 to have an HPV test along with their Pap test (co-testing) every 5 years to test for cervical cancer. It is still Okay to continue to have Pap tests every 3 years.
(* cited from AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY)
Colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope. It shines a light into the vagina and onto the cervix. A colposcope can greatly enlarge the normal view. This exam allows the health care provider to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone.
During colposcopy, the health care provider may see abnormal areas. A biopsy of these areas may be done. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the cervix. The sample is removed with a special device. Cells also may be taken from the canal of the cervix. A special device is used to collect the cells. This is called endocervical curettage (ECC).
You may be referred for a colposcopy within a few weeks of cervical screening if:
A colposcopy can also be used to find out the cause of problems such as unusual vaginal or prolonged bleeding.
First step to not being worried is getting tested. Make appointment and clear your doubts!
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