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 cells. 

2. How can I improve the accuracy of my Pap Smear and thus reduce my risk of cervical cancer?

The best way to detect early cervical cancer is to make sure you schedule a Pap smear every twelve months. 

Make sure your doctor sends your smear to a reputable, approved laboratory. You have the right to ask your physician to send your tests to any lab you want.

Schedule your appointment between the 12th and 14th day after the start of your last period.
Do not douche, use vaginal medicines or have intercourse for two days before your test.

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 (yeast) infection.

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 or syphilis

4. Who is at risk for cervical cancer?

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.


Women who are at high risk for cervical cancer, should consider having a Pap Smear every six months.



Canadian Medical Brush Inc.
2403 Postmaster Drive,
Oakville, Ontario L6M 0J2
Tel: (416) 803-2482 Fax: (905) 465-9101




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