What is a Pap Smear?
Pap Smear is a screening technique that loos for cervical cancer. It can detect precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix, the opening of the uterus.
During the procedure, some cells from the cervix are scraped away and examined for any abnormalities.
Who needs a Pap Smear?
Women between 21 and 65 years of age should have a Pap smear test as part of their regular health check-up routine. Generally, a Pap smear is recommended every three years, but some women will need to have one more frequently. This includes those who:
- Has had an abnormal Pap smear result or had cervical cancer in the past;
- Has a weakened immune system and is HIV- positive;
How is a Pap Smear Done?
A Pap smear is a fast and easy test that a OBYGYN or midwife can perform. He or she will insert a speculum into the vagina, which will make the cervix visible for a swab with a stick or a brush. The swab will extract cells from the surface of the cervix, which then will be sent off to a lab for testing. Though not painful, a Pap smear may be slightly uncomfortable and some women experience spotting after the test.
What Happens after the Pap Smear?
Most women will receive a normal result from their Pap smear. If, however, your result showed abnormalities, your health care provider may ask you to come for some further tests and treatment. In the majority of cases, an abnormal result does not mean the presence of cancer, but instead denotes an issue with the cervix or a small change in the cervix cells.
Can Cervical Cancer be Prevented?
Cervical cancer can, in most cases, be traced back to a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection. HPV is almost always asymptomatic (infected person has no signs or symptoms) and most women will not know they have HPV unless they get tested. The HPV can go away on its own without treatment, but some can also cause changes in the cervical cells – changes which can go on to become cervical cancer.
Today, there is a HPV vaccine called Gardasil available to girls and women between 11 and 26 years of age and it is recommended that all girls and women and girls between these ages get the HPV vaccine. If you are, or have a sister or daughter, who is between 11 and 26 years old, you can contact us for further information and to make an appointment.