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What is a pap smear test?

December 3, 2020

Pap smear test, or simply a Pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer-related death of women. Pap smears, or Papanicolaou tests, are the best way to determine the presence or cancerous or precancerous cells in the cervix.

What does it detect?

Pap smear test detects certain viral infections like HPV (human papillomavirus), which can cause cervical cancer. Early determination of cervical cancer is very crucial for treatment, and many women do not even know that they have cervical cancer until a later stage as there are no symptoms.

Pap smear test is, therefore, very important and has contributed to the decline of cervical cancer-related deaths.

Who should get it done?

There are various risk factors which increase the risk of getting infected with HPV or increase the risk of cervical cancer. Women who should get a Pap test done include those who:

●Have multiple sexual partners

●Weak immune system

A history of cancer, especially in the lower genital tract

●Sexual intercourse at an early age

●Smoke

HIV-positive women

●Women who have undergone organ transplants

How often?

Doctors recommend that women over 21 years of age should have the test done once every three years. After three successive tests, you may have a Pap smear test once every 3-5 years until the age of 65. Post the age of 65, you may not require a Pap test at all. It is also recommended that women who are in a monogamous relationship too get the tests done, as HPV virus may remain dormant for many years before becoming suddenly active. Consult your gynaecologist for more information and to schedule a Pap test.

Preparing for the test:

There are a few things to keep in mind before getting the test done. Let your gynaecologist know if you have any doubts or apprehensions and let them know if you are menstruating, as the results may be affected.

Also, refrain from having sex a day before the tests, as it can also affect the results. Finally, take deep breaths and relax, as it will make the entire process smoother and easier.

The procedure:

For a Pap smear test, the doctor will ask you to lie down with your legs spread. The doctor will then use a speculum to separate the vaginal walls. Then a small sample of cells will be scraped from the cervix, using a spatula, brush, or a combination of both. You may feel a slight irritation and discomfort during the procedure. After the test, you might have cramps or even vaginal bleeding. The pain or cramps do not last than a few hours.

The sample is then tested in a laboratory, and irregularities, if any, are addressed. The Pap smear test is a very successful procedure for cervical cancer diagnosis and preventing complications or mortality.

Pap smear test is an important diagnostic process, which requires immense skill and modern facilities. Cloudnine is one of the few hospitals in Bangalore that offers cervical cancer screening tests like a pap smear test. Our renowned team which includes some of the best gynaecologists, specialists, well-equipped labs and trained technicians is well adept at performing pap smear tests with utmost dexterity and performing a minute analysis of the same.

Must read - What are the most common type of cancers in women?

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