Pap smear is an important part of a women’s preventive health care. It is a quick and simple test used to screen women for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a disease where normal cells in the cervix (mouth of the uterus or womb) change and multiply to form a growth or tumor. Most cases of cervical cancer occur in women who have never had a Pap test or those who have not had a Pap test within the past 5 years
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable female cancers. The incidence of cervical cancer has significantly declined over the past years because of screening and early detection by the Pap smear. However, Cervical Cancer still remains the number 1 cause of death in women due to cancer.
What does a Pap Smear Test show?
The samples collected during a Pap smear are examined under a microscope to look for abnormal pre-cancerous or malignant (cancerous) cells.
Abnormal Pap test results do not mean that you have cancer.
One in every ten Pap smears shows cell changes.
Most abnormal Pap smear results indicate the early stages of the disease and need reasonable observation by a doctor.
They are often inflammatory or minor cell changes, which mostly clears up on its own within one to two years. However, in a small number of cases if precancerous changes are found they can be treated before they turn into cancer.
These changes, if left untreated, may later develop into cervical cancer. If cancer is found it can be treated early, increasing the chance for survival. This is important, as cervical cancer can be completely cured with a simple treatment to the cervix if it is caught early enough.
Pap Smear for women – A must
Apart from this, Pap test can also show conditions, such as infection or inflammation that are not cancer.
A pap smear is a one time test and takes only a few minutes, but can save the lives of women by detecting cervical cancer early. It gives women the opportunity to prevent or treat any abnormalities before they become life-threatening.