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What You Need to Know About the Pap Test

What You Need to Know About the Pap Test

18:04 8th February 2018 | Common Cancer

Cervical Cancer Pap Smear Smear Test Regular Screening HPV Physical Pelvis Examination

PIn 1920, George Papanicolaou, a Greek doctor, developed the Pap test together with Romanian doctor, Aurel Babeş.


What is a Pap test?

 A Pap test – also known as a Pap smear or smear test – is a procedure that doctors use to test for cervical cancer in women. Women aged 30 to 65 should undergo one every three to five years.


It is one of the most essential screenings for women because cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women.


What is the Objective of this Test?

The objective is twofold:

  • Diagnose and treat cervical cancer as early as possible.
  • Provide preventative healthcare to address cervical cell changes and pre-cancer.




What Happens During a Pap Test?

This test takes place at a medical facility, whether that is at a doctor’s practice, a hospital or a clinic. The whole thing should be done in a few minutes.

  1. First you will get onto an examination table and lie down.
  2. Your feet can either go in stirrups or flat on the table, knees at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Once your legs are spread a little, a speculum will be inserted into your vagina. This tool is used to slightly open the vaginal walls for better access to the cervix.
  4. The doctor will then collect (gently ‘scrape’) cells from the surface of the cervix with a brush.
  5. The collected cells are then transferred to a microscope slide and sent to a lab.


At the lab, the sample is carefully examined. Results are sent to the healthcare professional who will relay the results to the patient.


A test for HPV, by far the most common cause of cervical cancer, can be done with the Pap test. The doctor should also perform a physical pelvis examination. All of these exams are part of a comprehensive cervical cancer screening.


What Pap Test Results Mean

 There are a few categories for Pap test results.

  • When no cell changes are observed the test is considered normal.
  • When results are unclear, a follow-up test could rule out or confirm pre-cancer.
  • Abnormal results do not mean it is cancer. Cell changes can be labelled ‘low-grade’ (not too serious) or ‘high-grade’ (more serious). More testing should be done to find out if it is, or is becoming cancer.



 If you are between the ages of 21 and 65 and have never been for a Pap test, schedule one immediately. If you have not been for a screening in the last three years (or if you cannot remember), please contact us to find out if it is time for your next screening.




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