A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. The cervix is the opening of the uterus.
During the routine procedure, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and then examined for abnormal growth. The procedure is done at your doctor’s office. It may be mildly uncomfortable, but doesn’t usually cause any long-term pain.
Who needs a Pap smear?
Most women should start getting regular Pap smears at age 21. Some women may be at increased risk for cancer or infection. You may need more frequent tests if:
- you are HIV-positive
- you have a weakened immune system from chemotherapy or an organ transplant
What do the results of a Pap smear mean?
There are two possible results from a Pap smear: Normal or Abnormal.