Pap smear, also known as a pap test, is a screening procedure to check for cancer of the cervix. The cervix is a tissue that connects the uterus with the vagina.
Sometimes, cells in the cervix can undergo cancer formation. A virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) can play a significant role in cervical cancer.
It is generally recommended for women over the age of 21 years. However, your gynecologist can tell how frequently you need to get a pap test done. You can visit the Best Gynecologist in Islamabad.
A pap smear can help detect precancerous and cancerous cells from the cervix. Early detection of cervical cancer can prevent it from spreading.
How to prepare for a PAP smear?
Try to avoid a PAP smear during your periods. Bleeding can interfere with the accuracy of the results of a PAP smear. Tell your doctor if you are having your periods to get your PAP smear rescheduled.
Doctors advise to avoid the following 48 hours before your PAP smear:
- Don’t have sexual intercourse
- Don’t use lubricants
- Don’t use vaginal sprays, medicines, creams, suppositories
- Don’t use spermicides
- Don’t douche the vagina
What to expect during the procedure?
A Pap test is usually conducted in the outpatient clinic. The procedure may cause some discomfort but is generally painless. Tell your doctor if you experience any pain.
Your doctor will ask you to undress waist-down and lay down on your back. You will be asked to support your feet on supports called stirrups to spread your legs. The doctor will then insert a device called a speculum into the vagina to keep it open and to better view the cervix.
Your doctor will then insert an instrument called the spatula to scrape some cells from the cervix. This process may cause discomfort or little pain for some time, but the pain does not persist. You can redress and carry on your usual day-to-day tasks. There is no rest needed after this procedure.
Your doctor will send the sample of cells to the laboratory to get them examined and check for any precancerous or cancerous cells.
The results of a Pap test could be normal or abnormal.
A negative result is normal. It means that the pathologist did not find any abnormal, inflammatory, precancerous, or cancerous cells in the sample.
An abnormal result does not mean the presence of cancer. It indicates the presence of cells which should not have been there in the cervix. The types of cells that could be abnormal are:
- Slightly abnormal cells
- Precancerous cells
- Mucus producing (glandular) cells
- Cancerous cells
False Negative Result
Sometimes, a pap smear may yield false-negative results, meaning that some abnormalities may remain undetected. Some reasons for false-negative results can be:
- Presence of inflammatory cells
- Inadequate collection of abnormal cells for the sample
- Presence of few abnormal cells
Pap smear is a very important screening test for cancer of the cervix. It can detect cancerous or potentially cancerous cells, which helps doctors treat any abnormality on time, that helps prevent the spread of cancer.
Ask your gynecologist about how often you need to get a PAP smear done. You can visit oladoc.com to find the best gynecologist in your city.