PAP Smear (Papanicolaou smear)
The Papanicolaou test popularly known as Pap test or Pap smear is a cervical screening procedure to check for pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix (opening of womb). A positive Pap test is followed by more intensive tests to confirm the findings and preventive measures are taken to curb the growth of abnormal cancer cells in the cervix. Pap smear is done to check for human papillomavirus but also plays a role in detecting bacterial infection and inflammation of the cervix.
A sample of cells from the cervix is taken from the outer opening of the cervix. This collection of cells is examined under a microscope to look for cells which may be indicative of cancer. A positive Pap smear does not mean that you have cancer, it only means that there are cell changes. The Pap smear is a very popular test around the world and is very effective in early detection of precancerous and cancer cells in the cervix.
Women aged between 20 and 60 are usually advised to undergo a Pap test for early detection of cervical cancer. It is recommended to have a Pap test every three to five years provided the test is negative.