What is a Pap smear or Pap test screening?
A Pap smear, also commonly referred to as a Pap test, is a screening test that is used to diagnose cervical cancer in women. The test will exam your cervix for cancer or precancerous cells.
The cervix is the opening of the uterus from the vagina.
What can you expect during a Pap smear or Pap test?
During a Pap smear, your doctor will scrape cells from the cervix and send them to the laboratory to be examined for irregular growth. Although a Pap test is uncomfortable, it is not painful.
Who should get a Pap smear or Pap test?
Women over the age of 21 should schedule regular Pap smears. Patients who are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer should be screened even earlier. Higher risk patients include:
- HIV-positive patients
- Patients with weakened immune system
How often should patients get a Pap smear or Pap test?
Patients who are over 30 years old and have had three normal Pap smears may be able to test every five years. If you are a patient who opts to test every five years, you should also be screened for human papillomavirus (HPV) at the same time. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, and patients who are HPV positive are more likely to develop cervical cancer.
If you are a woman over 65 years old and have a history of normal Pap smears, your doctor may recommend stop having Pap smears.
HPV can remain dormant for years, so even people who are in monogamous relationships should be regularly screened.