The Pap test or Pap smear
is performed to detect cervical cancer. A doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina to widen it and cells from the cervix will be collected for analysis in the laboratory. Abnormal or mutated cells may cause or indicate cervical cancer.
Who Should Undergo a Pap smear?
We recommend discussing with your doctor the best time for you to undergo the Pap smear and how often. The American Cancer Society has issued the following recommendations for women regarding the Pap smear:
- All women over 21 years of age or within three years of first sexual intercourse should undergo a Pap smear, depending on whichever comes first. The test should be repeated every one to two years thereafter.
- Women over 30 years of age should undergo an annual Pap Test. After three consecutive normal Pap Smear results, these women may undergo the test every three years, with the exception of those at risk for cervical cancer, such as women infected with HIV or HPV (human papillomavirus), those with compromised immune systems, or women who used diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy. Women at risk for cervical cancer should continue annual Pap Tests.
- Women over 70 years of age who have had normal results for three consecutive years, no abnormal results in the last ten years, and who are not at risk for cervical cancer do not need to undergo any futher Pap Tests.
Preparing For a Pap smear
- A Pap Test should be performed when you are not menstruating.
- Do not douche before the test.
- Do not use any vaginal suppositories, creams, or spermicide 48 hours before the test.
- Do not have sexual intercourse at least 24 hours before the test.
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Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand
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