WHAT IS PAP SMEAR TEST
A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women.
HOW IS IT DONE
A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of your vagina.
The Pap smear is usually done in conjunction with a pelvic exam. In women older than age 30, the Pap test may be combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV) — a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. In some cases, the HPV test may be done instead of a Pap smear.
ADVANTAGES OF PAP SMEAR
Detecting cervical cancer early with a Pap smear gives you a greater chance at a cure. A Pap smear can also detect changes in your cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future. Detecting these abnormal cells early with a Pap smear is your first step in halting the possible development of cervical cancer.
WHO SHOULD GET IT DONE
You and your doctor can decide when it’s time for you to begin Pap testing and how often you should have the test.
In general, doctors recommend beginning Pap testing at age 21.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD A PAP TEST BE REPEATED
Doctors generally recommend repeating Pap testing every three years for women ages 21 to 65.
Women age 30 and older can consider Pap testing every five years if the procedure is combined with testing for HPV. Or they might consider HPV testing instead of the Pap test.