What is a Pap Smear?
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.
Why Its Done?
The Psp smear 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.
Who Should Have a Pap Smear Test?
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.
How Often Should a Pap Smear Be Repeated?
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:
- A diagnosis of cervical cancer or a Pap smear that showed precancerous cells
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
- HIV infection
- Weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy or chronic corticosteriod use
- A history of smoking.
When To Stop Getting a Pap Smear Test?
- After a total hysterectomy – Surgical removal of the uterus including the cervix. If the hysterectomy was performed for a noncancerous condition, such as uterine fibroids, you can discontinue routine pap smear. If there was a history of cervical cancer then despite the surgery, routine testing will need to be done.
- Older age – Women can consider stopping at the age of 65 if their previous tests for cervical cancer have been negative.
How You Prepare?
To ensure Pap smear is most accurate, follow these tips:
- Avoid intercourse or any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams or jellies for 2 days before having a Pap smear, as these may wash away or obscure abnormal cells.
- Avoid scheduling your pap smear during your menstrual period. Its best to avoid this time of your cycle, if possible
What You Can Expect?
During The Pap Smear
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.
After Your Pap Smear
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.
Understanding Your Results
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.