Pap Test (Pap smear)
The Pap test, also known as pap smear or cervical smear, was developed by doctor George Papanicolaou (hence the name). It is used to detect changes in cervical cells such as the presence of abnormal, precancerous and cancerous cells.
The test itself involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix. This can be done by a physician or a gynaecologist during a woman's yearly gynaecological examination, for example. The Pap test, although slightly uncomfortable for some, is not painful. The sample is taken with a long swab or small brush that looks like a cotton swab. The physician inserts a speculum (gynaecological forceps) into the vagina which allows him to look at the cervix and collect a sample with the swab. The cells are then placed on a glass slide so they can be analysed. The Pap test takes between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.
What is the purpose of this test?
This test is used to identify cancerous cells. It can also detect cervical inflammation, an infection and can be used to monitor cancer treatment. It is recommended that women have a Pap test on a yearly basis once they become sexually active or once they reach the age of 18 years.
- The test should not be done when you are menstruating. It is therefore important to schedule your appointment with this in mind.
- Vaginal douches should be avoided in the 24 hours leading up to the test.
- It is recommended that you urinate before the test.
- Bring a sanitary napkin to use after the test as there may be light vaginal bleeding.
What does an abnormal result mean?
If the results of a Pap test reveal changes in the cervical cells, the physician will suggest a second test within the following months to confirm the results. If the cells are still abnormal, further tests are necessary.
What to know before going for this test
Before going for a blood test, examination or other, it is always a good idea for you to have a complete list of all prescription or over the counter medications and/or natural products you may be taking. Unless otherwise indicated, it is recommended that you continue to take your medication as usual when going for blood tests. If you are unsure or have any questions, your pharmacist will be able provide you with additional information:
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.