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What is a Pap Smear?
Commonly known as pap test, a pap smear is a quick, simple and essentially painless test or screening to identify the presence of cancerous cells on the cervix, or the mouth of the uterus. Typically, a doctor uses a pap smear test to determine the changes that occur in cervical cells that could lead to cancer.
During the short process, the doctor gently scrapes away the cells from a patient’s cervix and examines them for any abnormal growth. It might be a little uncomfortable for some patients, but usually it does not involve long-term pain.
If you are concerned about the process, we can help you learn what a pap smear is, who needs it and how it is conducted.
Who needs a pap test?
Regardless of whether your body shows symptoms of cervical cancer or not, taking a pap test if you are 21 or above is beneficial for you. Cervical cancer is increasingly growing in women, and the rate is comparatively higher in younger females. However, if you are HIV positive or have a weak immune system due to treatments like organ transplant or chemotherapy, you may require a pap smear more frequently.
Apart from these conditions, if you are over 30 and have already had three pap smears consecutively, consult your doctor about taking the test every four years.
HPV virus 16 & 18 are some of the primary causes of cervical cancer. If you are HVP positive, the risk of developing cancerous cells is high. Women who are over the age of 60 with no medical history of HPV can prevent cervical cancer with the help of pap smear results.
How is a pap smear performed?
The pap test does not take more than 15 or 20 minutes. Your doctor inserts a speculum (a metal tool) into your vagina to widen the vaginal walls, which allows the doctor to see and check your cervix. The doctor takes a sample of your cells from the cervix using a swab. The sample is placed into a chemical liquid to be sent to a laboratory for review.
What does a pap smear result mean?
The doctor receives the results within four to five days. There is nothing to worry about if your results are negative. It means you have no infection or abnormal cells in your cervix. However, if the results are positive, it indicates that you are suffering from minor cellular changes that can be cleared up in a few months. If the cells continue to grow, your doctor will prescribe more tests like a colposcopy for further screening.
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