The Pap Smear is a fast, simple diagnostic for changes in the cervical cells, which may turn cancerous when left untreated. Women aged 18 to 70 years should have regular Pap smears every 2 years, even after being injected with the HPV vaccine. About 8 in 10 women who get cervical cancer have not had a Pap smear or have not done them regularly.
Why do I need to have a pap smear done?
The main reason why you would want to have Pap smears done regularly is to detect cervical cancer immediately. This type of cancer is related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be spread through direct contact, especially during sex. High risk HPV strains (type 16 and 18) can cause cervical cancer as the virus can cause cell damage in the cervix. If left undetected, cervical cancer in its early treatable stages goes unnoticed. Other risk factors for cervical cancer aside from HPV infection include smoking, getting sexually transmissible infections such as chlamydia, had sex or gave birth at a young age, had multiple sex partners or have used birth control pills long-term.
How is a pap smear done?
The Pap test is done by a healthcare provider. There is no preparation for the test. During the test, the healthcare provider will insert a speculum in the vagina to see the cervix. A small spatula or tiny brush is inserted to collect cervical cells. The collected sample is smeared onto the glass slide and sent to the laboratory for analysis. It might take week to get the result. It might be a bit uncomfortable during the test but it should not be painful. When it does hurt, tell the doctor, nurse or specialist immediately.
What happens after the Pap smear?
An abnormal Pap smear result might mean less serious squamous intraepithelial lesion or more severe intraepithelial lesion but it does not mean always mean cervical cancer is present. Frequent Pap tests may be advised after an abnormal result. Additional tests may also be advised such as colposcopy or biopsy of the cervix.
Perlman Clinic offers pap scan results straight to your email inbox. Just send us your name, date of birth and laboratory test result you want to [email protected]. You would need to print a hard copy for your personal copy and contact our office immediately by phone to discuss the results with your doctor.