Overview and importance of Pap (Papanicolaou) smear and cervical screening

Overview and importance of Pap (Papanicolaou) smear and cervical screening

General

Cervical health screening is a must, don’t look the other way. It is a simple yet effective method to inspect your cervical health. As the 4th most commonly occurring cancer in women worldwide, it is imperative to get tested. Cervical cancer was shown to be most prevalent in third-world countries, thus occurring mostly in women who do not have access to medical facilities.

Work icon

Thank you for your interest in our product!

We are still working intensively to adapt it to your needs. If you want, we will inform you when it will be available.

How these tests are performed

  • Pap smear: your gynecologist will insert a speculum, which is a tube-shaped instrument to open the vagina. Using a soft brush, the physician will “brush” off cervical cells for inspection of abnormal/and/or cancer cells.
  • Cervical screening is performed in the same manner, but the end result is to look for the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV).

How to prepare before the examination

  • avoid intercourse,
  • avoid douches,
  • tampon use,
  • any medication or anti-contraceptive gel/foam/cream or other intra-vaginal medication.

When and how often should they be performed

  • Women between the ages of 21 and 29: if the pap test results are normal, your gynecologist will propose for you to get re-tested in 3 years. If the Pap/HPV co-test is available and normal, it is recommended to test again in 5 years.
  • Women between the age of 30 to 65: same guidelines as women from 21 to 29 years of age.
  • Women older than 65: shouldn’t be tested if a total hysterectomy has been done or if constant screening has been normal for several years.

What will be done in case of unwanted results

  • Positive HPV but normal pap: this occurs in many women. The infection usually clears up within 2 years. Your gynecologist may refer you for a follow-up test within a year or two, if the infection is still present, you may need a colposcopy (your gynecologist will use a colposcope to better visualize your cervix, vulva, and vagina for abnormal tissue).
  • Inflammatory process detected: this could mask invasive cancer thus the infection must be treated, and a pap follow-up must be performed within 3-6 months. If abnormality persists, you will be referred for a colposcopy.
  • ASCUS (atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance) positive: this presents the most common abnormality noted in pap smears. It may signify an ongoing infection with HPV or yeast. A follow-up pap smear should be performed within 3-6 months but if abnormal cells persist, you will be referred for a colposcopy.
  • LSIL (low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion) and HSIL (high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion): this depicts the presence of cancerous cells; your gynecologist will refer you for a colposcopy accompanied by biopsy
  • Invasive cancer: biopsy if the growth of the tumor is evident or you will be referred for a colposcopy accompanied by biopsy.
  • AGUS (abnormal glandular cells of undetermined significance): in this case, colposcopy and biopsy will be required and then followed by what we call a cone biopsy (to remove all abnormal cells) and dilation/curettage (a procedure that is both diagnostic and therapeutic to remove all residual abnormal cells).
Bibliography:
  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cervical-cancer
  2. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/cervical-cancer-screening
  3. https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21628
ask a doctor iphone

Do you need a medical opinion?

Don't hesitate! You don't have to wait for an appointment. Download the application and ask our doctor a question.

you might also find interesting

Telemedicine: consult a doctor without leaving home

Ewelina Kodyra

Diagnosis of diabetes

Ewelina Kodyra