Pap Smear

March 17 20:23 2019 Print This Article

Although the Pap smear was first used in the 1920’s to diagnose cervical cancer, it is now mostly used as a SCREENING test for the early detection of changes in the cervix (neck of the uterus) that might later become cancerous. Removal of suspicious tissue can prevent the development of almost all cervical cancer, Certain infections and inflammatory conditions of the cervix may also show up on a Pap smear (abbreviated from Papanicolaou smear, and also called cervical smear).

Pap smears are performed quickly and easily. A speculum is inserted into the woman’s to hold its walls apart so that the cervix can be seen. A specially shaped wooden or plastic spatula or a small brush is then wiped around the cervix. The test is painless. although some women feel an unusual sensation as the cervix is wiped, or may find the speculum intrusive. The cells collected are transferred to a glass slide, which is sprayed with or dipped in a solution to preserve the specimen. It takes about 2 minutes to prepare for and collect the smear, though it is usually done as part of a general gynaecological check, which takes longer. The speci-men is sent for examination in a CYTOLOGY laboratory, Results are usually available within a week.

Screening smears are advised for all women from the age of 18 (or within 2 years of first whichever is later) until they are 70. If the first smear is normal, repeats are advised every 2 years. If any suspicious changes are found at any time, more frequent smears (and often COLPOSCOPY) are advised until the abnormality disappears, with or without treatment. After that smears every 2 years can be resumed.

A Pap smear only takes a few minutes. No drugs or anaesthetics are required and it can be done by a general practitioner, nurse or women’s health worker. The Pap smear can detect cancerous. A cervical biopsy is usually performed when a pap smear indicates significant abnormalities, or when an abnormal area is seen on the cervix during a routine pelvic examination. It is generally recommended that active females seek Pap smear testing annually, although guidelines may vary from country to country. The Pap smear is a screening test. If your pap smear is abnormal, you may require a repeat pap smear or colposcopic evalauation. In the early stages of cervical cancer, there are usually no symptoms. The only way to detect changes is if you have a Pap smear. A repeat Pap smear may be necessary if you had an infection at the time of the test or if there were not enough cells collected during the test.

Why the test is performed?

  • The Pap smear can detect cancerous or precancerous conditions of the cervix.
  • Pap tests also can find infections and abnormal cervical cells that can turn into cancer cells.
  • Getting regular Pap tests is the best thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer.
  • For minor cell changes, it is usually recommended that a repeat pap smear be done in 6 months.

How to prepare for the test?

  • Tell your doctor if you might be pregnant.
  • Avoid scheduling your Pap smear while you are menstruating, because blood and cells from the endometrial cavity may obscure the accuracy of the Pap smear.
  • Empty your bladder just before the test.

How the test will feel?

  • A small amount of bleeding may occur after the test.
  • There may be some discomfort, similar to menstrual cramps, and a feeling of pressure during the procedure.
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