Over time most of the women are aware of the importance of getting a pap smear. But still, there are many women who are not much serious about it. Pap smear, also known as Pap test, is a screening procedure often used to test for cervical cancer in women. Experiencing no symptoms of cervical cancer doesn’t mean you can ignore Pap smear. To know why it is so important to get regular Pap tests, let us know about Pap smear in detail.
What is Pap Smear?
A Pap smear or Pap test is a screening test for cervical cancer in women. It can also reveal changes in the cervical cells that may turn into cancer later.
What Happens During a Pap Smear?
During a Pap smear, the doctor collects a sample of cells from the cervix. These cells are then sent to a lab for examination under a microscope to find any abnormal growth.
Why Does a Woman Need to Get a Pap Smear?
Though regular Pap tests have nothing to do with the risk of cervical cancer, but getting screened regularly helps to find the growth of cancerous cells in the cervix at an early stage. As many women don’t notice any symptoms in the early stage of cervical cancer, it is better to take regular Pap tests for early diagnosis. Cervical cancer detected early can be cured with appropriate treatments.
Who Needs a Pap Smear?
In general, doctors recommend a pap test for women ages 21 to 65. If a woman over 30 years has had three normal Pap tests in a row, she can get a Pap test once in every five years. Women may need to get frequent Pap tests if they are diagnosed with the abnormal cells or HPV in their previous Pap test.
Who can Consider Stopping Pap Smear?
In certain cases, a woman and her gynecologist may decide to end the Pap smear tests, such as:
- After a total hysterectomy: Taking Pap smear tests or not depends on the reason which needed a total hysterectomy. If the hysterectomy is done for a noncancerous condition, such as uterine fibroids, the routine pap smears can be discontinued. If the hysterectomy was performed for a precancerous or cancerous condition of the cervix, it is better to continue the Pap smears.
- Older Age: Women at age 65 can stop routine Pap testing if their previous tests for cervical cancer have been negative.
What do you Need to Understand the Result of a Pap Smear?
There are two possible results after getting a Pap smear.
- Normal results: A woman discovered with normal cervical cells after a Pap smear is said to have a negative result. And she doesn’t need any further treatment or testing until her next Pap smear and pelvic exam.
- Abnormal results: If a woman is diagnosed with abnormal or unusual cells after her Pap smear, she is said to have a positive result. A positive result doesn’t indicate cervical cancer. The positive result depends on the type of cells diagnosed in the test.
Depending on the results, the frequency of Pap tests is decided by your gynecologist. If the results of Pap smear are suspicious, your doctor may recommend a colposcopy or biopsy for further examination of the cervical tissue.