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PAP Smear

PAP Smear: Frequently Asked Questions

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 13:04

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are some frequently asked questions related to Pap smear.

Q: Who should have a Pap smear?

A: Every girl or woman who is at least 18 years old and who is or has been sexually active should have regular Pap smears.

Q: How often should a girl or woman have a Pap smear?

A: She should have an annual Pap smear unless her doctor advises her to be tested more or less frequently.

Q: Can a Pap smear prove whether a woman has cancer?

A: No. A Pap smear can detect abnormal conditions of the cervix or vagina but cannot determine whether the abnormality is cancerous.

Q: Why are regular Pap smears so important?

A: Regular Pap smearing is the only way to detect early cervical cancers and conditions that could become cancerous.

Q: What happens if Pap smear results are abnormal?

A: The doctor will perform a second Pap screening. If the results of this procedure are also abnormal, the doctor will perform diagnostic procedures to identify the condition.

Q: Should a woman who is pregnant have a Pap smear?

A: A Pap smear is performed during a woman's first prenatal visit with her obstetrician. If a woman who is pregnant has an abnormal Pap smear, her doctor will perform a colposcopy to determine whether she has invasive cervical cancer. A pregnant woman who has an abnormal Pap smear but whose diagnostic tests don't suggest invasive cervical cancer can safely postpone further examination and biopsy until six weeks after her baby is born.

PAP Smear