Cervical cancer is one of the deadliest cancers
affecting women. Detecting cervical cancer in the early stages helps in its
complete cure. Screening for cervical cancer is done through a Pap smear test. Pap
smear test should also be done before planning conception as it will rule out
the presence of cancer. Pap test is one of the important tests for any woman.
Read on to know more about Pap test.
Prior to planning
pregnancy, it is important to conduct a Pap test
as it can make you aware whether you stand cervical cancer or are already
suffering from the same. For this it is necessary to know what goes on this Pap
test. It is basically the screening of the cervical area or the opening of the
uterus of the woman for the presence of cancerous cells, pre-cancerous cellular
changes, any inflammatory conditions along with the possibility of sexually
The test is conducted at a clinic and at certain intervals.
It is usually once before pregnancy that the Pap test is done and repeated
before another pregnancy if the doctor observes certain potential changes in
the cervix during examination. The importance of the test lies in the fact that
the abnormal cervical cells and infections if any can be detected early and
accordingly the treatment can be devised. Otherwise there can be chances that
can get terminated mid way and the health of the baby might get affected.
Why is the Pap Test
This is also known as the Pap smear, which is a medical
procedure. A sample or a collection of cells are made from the end of the
uterus that conjoins the vagina, alternatively known as the cervical area. This
sample is then spread or smeared atop a microscopic slide. These cells are
studied under powerful microscopic lens as the pathologist searches for
malignant and pre-malignant cells. They also look for the abnormal structural
changes in the cells which can be potential for cancerous development in near
The Pap test is a very painless procedure and is very simple
and quick too. It has two facets to it: Specificity and Sensitivity. The former
entails that the test can effectively classify a normal smear from an abnormal
one and its differentiation is rather perfect. But then there is a chance for
error too, when there are actually cases where an abnormal smear is not really
detected by the Pap test. This means that the abnormality is present but went
undetected. This is thus the reason why few women are detected with cervical cancer
in spite obtaining a positive Pap screening.
But still its importance lies in the fact that the test can
detect even the minor cellular abnormalities prior to them even display any
malignant characteristics. This makes it easier for the doctor to judge and
control the situation and prescribe appropriate treatment for the mother so
that she can successfully conceive and give birth to a healthy baby.
There is a vital point to note, Pap test can only cervical
cancer. But cancer also occurs in the vagina, ovary and uterus of women and Pap
test does not play any role in determining them. But they can be well
discovered during the pelvic exam which is usually prescribed and performed
during the Pap test.
The test takes a couple of minutes where the woman is
required to lie on an examination table on her back. She is asked to bend her
knees and her feet are placed on metal stirrups that are joined at the end of the
table. The doctor then inserts a tiny device called a speculum inside the vagina
as she or he examines the cervix. The sample is collected with the help of a
thin brush or spatula. The sample is placed on a slide or bottle and sent to
the laboratory for testing.
How is the Pap Test