About Pap Smears
What is a Pap smear?
This is a screening test from the cells of the cervix and the vagina that is done by looking at these cells by cytopathologist (a specially-trained medical doctor that works in a laboratory) for precancerous or cancerous changes.
Could I have cancer of the cervix and not know it?
Yes...often there is no pain; this kind of cancer kills many women every year. Regular pap smears can detect precancerous and cancerous changes of the cervix early so there is a better chance for cure.
How often should I get a Pap test?
Get a Pap test every year, unless your doctor recommends more frequently or less frequently. Every woman who is sexually active or 18 years or older should have a Pap smear.
How is the Pap test done?
The nurse or doctor wipes a swab on the cervix in your vagina. This requires a speculum examination. The Pap smear takes only a few minutes to be completed.
Who needs a Pap test?
- If you are over 18, or
- If you are 18 or under and have sex
Even women who have gone through the change of life (menopause) or have had a hysterectomy need a regular Pap test, usually every three years (ask your provider).
Why is a Pap test important to me?
Because it can tell if you have cancer of the cervix early...while it's still easier to cure. It can save your life!