1. What is a Pap smear?
A Pap Smear is
a screening test for cervical cancer. Named
after the Greek anatomist and physician George Nicholas
Papanicolaou, the test has reduced deaths from cervical
cancer by 70 percent since its development in the 1940's.
The test involves collecting cells from the cervix
and vagina and preparing them for microscopic study
by using special stains. A licensed technician or pathologist
then reviews the slides and looks for any sign of cancerous
2. How can I improve the
accuracy of my Pap Smear and thus reduce
my risk of cervical
The best way to
detect early cervical cancer is to make sure you schedule
a Pap smear every twelve months.
3. What does a Pap smear detect?
A Pap Smear
is the single, most effective test for detecting pre-malignant
and malignant conditions of the cervix. This is the
main reason Pap Smears are performed. Pap smears can
also detect HPV (Human Papilloma Virus, thought to be
a contributing factor in cervical cancer and Candida
A Pap Smear is a poor test for
bacterial vaginitis and Chlamydia.
A Pap Smear is not a test for
AIDS. A Pap Smear is not a test for ovarian, uterine
or breast cancer (although during the course of the
exam, the doctor will physically check you for signs
of these.) A Pap Smear is not a test for herpes, gonorrhea
4. Who is at risk for
Almost all women have a chance
of contracting cervical cancer. Increased risk
factors include exposure to Human Papilloma virus infection
(HPV), having multiple sex partners, smoking and having
intercourse at a young age. Poor nutrition and other
infections can also be a risk factor.
IF CAUGHT EARLY ENOUGH
ALMOST ALL CERVICAL CANCER PATIENT SURVIVE!
Women who are at high
risk for cervical cancer, should consider having a Pap
Smear every six months.