A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix, the opening of the uterus. During the procedure, cells from the cervix are gently scraped away and then examined for abnormal growth. Women who are sexually active should have a Pap smear done at least once every three years, and if possible, annually.
If the test results are abnormal, this doesn’t always mean one has cancer. It might mean that there are abnormal cells on the cervix, some of which could be precancerous. Depending on what the test results show, there may be a need for a repeat smear in a few months, or a procedure called a colposcopy. This is an examination that uses light and magnification to see vaginal and cervical tissues more clearly. The doctor can also take a sample of cervical tissue for a more detailed test, and remove the abnormal cells completely.
A Pap smear is a brief outpatient procedure that lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes. An instrument called a speculum is inserted into the vagina to reveal the cervix, and a soft brush is gently applied on the cervix to collect the cells on the surface. The brush with the cells is immediately placed into a special solution and sent off to the laboratory for investigation.
The results usually take about 10 to 14 days to be ready, and a doctor will give you a call to inform you of the findings. There might be a need for you to come into the clinic for a more detailed discussion on the results received.
Pap tests are accurate, and regular Pap screenings reduce cervical cancer rates and mortality by 80 per cent. Contact us today to request an appointment for a Pap smear!