The Pap Test
What is the Pap Test:
Pap: stands for Papanicolau stain. A routine test to screen for cancerous cells in the cervix as a prevention of cervical cancer. It can show unhealthy changes in these cells
What is the Cervix?
The cervix is found at the top of the vagina. It is the opening of the womb.
Who needs a Pap test?
Cervical cytology screening should be initiated at 21 years of age for women who are or have ever been sexually active. This includes intercourse, as well as digital or oral sexual activity involving the genital area with a partner of either gender.
If cytology is normal, screening should be done every 3 years.
When is the best time to have the Pap test done?
The best time for the Pap test is when you do not have your period, have not had sex for 1 day (24 hours) before the test and when you have not put any foams or medications in the vagina for two days (48 hours).
How is the Pap test done?
Your health care provider can do a Pap test during a pelvic exam. It is a quick test that takes only a few minutes. You will be asked to lie down on an exam table and put your feet in holders called stirrups, letting your knees fall to the side. A sheet will cover your legs and stomach. The health care provider will put an instrument called a speculum into your vagina, opening it to see the cervix and to do the Pap test. She or he will use a special stick, brush or swab to take a few cells from inside and around the cervix. The cells are placed in a small container, then checked by a lab to make sure they are healthy. While painless for most women, a Pap test can cause cramping for some women.
(Chlamydia and Gonorrhea swabs may also be taken at this time)
What does an abnormal result mean?
For most women, an abnormal Pap test result does not mean you have cancer. It may just mean that there are changes in the cells of your cervix.
“Not Normal” can mean:
-an inflammation in the vagina or cervix or an infection that may require treatment.
-(ASCUS) small changes in the cells on your cervix that may go away on their own without treatment.
-(LSIL) moderate changes in the cells that may stay or get worse if not treated.
-(HSIL) more serious changes that may lead to cancer if not treated.
-Cancer of the cervix
All these changes can be treated.
What are my treatment options?
Your treatment plan will depend on the kind of cells changes you have. Many cells revert back to normal in 6 months.
Sometimes, your doctor or nurse will ask you to have another Pap test in 3-6 months to see if your cells will change back to normal on their own. You may worry about waiting but remember that three out of four abnormal Pap test results return to normal by the next test.
It usually takes up to 10 years for abnormal cells to turn to cancer.
For more serious cell changes or repeated abnormal results, you will be referred to a specialist who will look more carefully at your cervix with a colposcope. It is a special set of binoculars that helps your doctor see your cervix more clearly.
The doctor may also take a biopsy (small piece of tissue) for a closer look under a microscope.
My Pap Test results say I have HPV-What does that mean?
click here: http://waterloo.mylaurier.ca/health/info/HPV.htm