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What Is A Pap Smear?

A Pap Test, or Pap Smear as most women refer to it, is a test to determine changes in cervical cells.  This test can detect early signs of cervical cancer, infections, and precancerous cells.

 

The cervix is located at the lower part of the uterus.  It is the opening to the uterus is a woman's reproductive system.  During a Pap test, your doctor will use a speculum to hold open your vagina while he or she scrapes cells from the cervix.  These cells are then analyzes in a laboratory for any abnormalities.  Test results can take several days to come back and your doctor should contact you if any follow up tests are needed.

 

Cervical cancer can be caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).  The virus cause cervical cells to turn abnormal and then over many years these abnormal cells can become cancerous.  Often, many women don't realize they have HPV or cervical cancer because symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, discharge or pain, don't occur until cervical cancer is quite advanced.

 

Most doctors recommend a Pap test every year to two years for women.  For women over 30 an HPV test is also offered to further rule out cervical cancer risk.

 

If your Pap test results come back as clear, you don't need to be tested again until the next year.  If your test results come back abnormal, your doctor will likely recommend further tests to determine why the Pap smear resulted in an abnormal reading.

 

Since cervical cancer is a slow developing cancer, regular screening can prevent it when caught in time.  Be sure to schedule your yearly Pap Test with your doctor, and make sure you keep your appointment!!

 

By Danna Vach

 

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