Pap smears or Pap tests usually are a procedure to screen for cancer of the cervix. This test is performed to detect if any cells are precancerous and cancerous in a woman’s cervix, which is the uterus’ opening.
With this routine procedure, your doctor will gently scrape cervix cells away to examine them for any abnormal growths. It can be done in the doctor’s rooms and may feel a bit uncomfortable, though, normally it won’t cause any lasting pain.
When will a woman need a Pap smear?
Most of the time, women must start with Pap smears from the age of twenty-one. Pap smears should become a regular test for women once they reach this age. Women that might be at a higher risk to get infections or cancer will need to be tested more regularly. This is especially true if they are HIV-positive, had an organ transplant, or when their immune system is weakened due to chemotherapy.
If a woman is older than thirty with three consecutive tests that delivered normal results, it’s possible to consult with her doctor before doing the test only every 5 years, if it’s combined with an HPV or human papilloma-virus screening.
It’s still necessary to get Pap smears regularly, even when a woman is involved in a relationship that is monogamous. This is because HPV viruses may stay dormant for many years and suddenly just become active.
Women older than sixty-five years of age with a normal Pap smear result history could stop to going for future tests.
Facts of Pap smears
Essentially, it’s a quick, simple and painless procedure used to screen for precancerous or cancer cells of the cervix.
The collection of cells from the cervix of a woman with a pelvic exam will be microscopically examined. Evaluation of these cells is done in search of any abnormalities, such as cancerous and pre-cancerous changes. Women might experience a little bit of spotting immediately after the procedure, though excessive or heavy bleeding won’t be normal. It’s recommended that women between twenty-one and sixty-five years of age, needs to go for cancer of the cervix screening every three years. Pap smears can show changes such as precancerous cells which may be treated in early stages before cancer can develop. Women’s recorded status of their menstruation and when, or whether she previously had a Pap smear that was abnormal, is essential to the current test reader.
Nearly eighty percent of all women that are diagnosed with cervical invasive cancer didn’t undergo a Pap test procedure over the last five years. Cervical cancer is basically a disease that can be prevented.
About the Pap smear procedure
A woman will be positioned flat on the bed, while the doctor firstly examines her outside rectal and genital areas, except for her urethra to ensure everything looks normal.
He/she then insert a speculum, which is used to examine a woman’s cervix and vagina through placing it into her vagina or birth canal.
With a tiny swab or brush inserted through the cervix opening, the doctor may twirl it around in order to collect cell samples.
Another sample can be collected on her cervix’s surface as part of this procedure.
These samples will be placed within a solution to isolate the cells for later evaluation at the laboratory.
How regular should a woman go for this procedure?
It’s recommended that every woman should go for a Pap smear test every three years starting at the age of twenty-one up to the age of sixty-five. Women that is thirty years or older may do the test every five years, together with an HPV test. The reason for this test is that it’s one of the STI/sexually transmitted infections that is very common and is related to causing cancer of the cervix.
- If there are any concerns about certain health conditions, it can be recommended to do it more often, such as:
- When a woman has had a Pap smear that showed cells which are pre-cancerous or have cervical cancer.
- With an immune system that is weakened due to the use of chronic corticosteroid, chemotherapy, or an organ transplant.
- HIV infection.
- If she was exposed before birth to DES/diethylstilbestrol.
It’s important to discuss all of your concerns or questions with the doctor, he/she can explain your condition to you and also what will be best for you.