The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for cancers and precancers in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina). Precancers are cell changes that might become cancer if they are not treated the right way.
A Pap smear is one aspect of a wellness exam. It is called a “Pap smear” because the sample collected is ultimately “smeared” on a microscope slide for a doctor specializing in pathology to look at. This test is a tool to screen for cervical cancer that involves a small brush that collects a sample of cells from the cervix and this is done during a pelvic examination.
A Pap test can save your life. It can find early signs of cervical cancer. If caught early, the chance of successful treatment of cervical cancer is very high. Pap tests can also find abnormal cervical cells before they turn into cancer cells. Treating these abnormal cells can help prevent most cases of cervical cancer from developing. Getting a Pap test is one of the best things you can do to prevent cervical cancer.
Most women ages 21 to 65 should get Pap tests as part of routine health care. Even if you are not currently sexually active, you should still have a Pap test. Women who have gone through menopause (when a woman's periods stop) and are younger than 65 still need regular Pap tests. Depending on your health history and risks, your healthcare provider may recommend getting a Pap every three years.
Women who do not have a cervix (usually because of a hysterectomy), and who also do not have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap results, do not need Pap tests. Women ages 65 and older who have had three normal Pap tests in a row and no abnormal test results in the last 10 years do not need Pap tests.
This information was provided by the Office on Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Click HERE for more information on Pap smears.
Sandpoint Women's Health provides Pap smears. Call 208-263-2173 to make an appointment with one of our highly skilled providers or click the button below to request an appointment.