Pap smear test is a type of screening, which is done to examine cells, found in the cervix. The test is done to prevent cervical cancer and it is named after the Greek researcher Georgios Papanikolaou. It is also called Papanicolaou Test.
In the Papanicolaou test, the cells scraped from the uterus are examined under a microscope and abnormalities in the cells are examined. The test find outs the presence of human papillomaviruses in the cells of the cervix and it can also detect abnormalities in the cervix.
Screening procedure - The doctor inserts a speculum to collect the cells from the cervix or it can be collected through other methods such as broom or brush. The sample collected from the uterus is stained and viewed under the microscope.
Preparation for the test
If you are preparing to give the test, you should be ready for a few questions. The physician may ask you questions such as: If you are taking birth control medicines or not? Are you pregnant or not? What is your history of Pap smear test? Have you even been tested positive? The test is done also to detect pre-cancerous condition but sometimes, only physical examination is done to find out about the condition.
Pap smear test results
The results of Pap smear test can be LSIL or HSIL. LSIL stands for low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion and HSIL stands for high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. In case of LSIL, the patient may have HPV infection, but the condition may not cause cervical cancer. In case of HSIL, a very low percentage indicates abnormal conditions such as squamous cell abnormalities or Glandular epithelial cell abnormalities.
Significance of Pap smear test
Pap test has helped women to reduce the deaths caused by cancer of cervix and if the test fails it can be due to the lack of follow ups or lack of regular screening.
In case of abnormal results in Pap smear test
If a Pap smear test shows abnormalities, a biopsy may be required in case of patients who are at a high risk, but if the risk is not high the doctor may conduct a HPV test. The physician may recommend Pap smear test after every six months to prevent any risk of cancer.
Precautions before the test
1. Women who are menstruating should not be examined but if the bleeding is heavy, the doctor may conduct a Pap smear test to find out the cause for heavy bleeding.
2. The screening is mostly done for women who had sexual contact because infections in the cervix cells can only be caused if a woman has gone for lovemaking.
3. There are certain drugs, which should not be taken, if you are taking Pap smear test such as silver nitrate, colchicines, cigarette compounds, estrogen, progestins and podophyllin.
4. After the test many women do not feel any side effects, but some women complain of cramps.
5. There is no risk of taking up a Pap smear test and it can be repeated after one year in case of negative result.