Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow-up. Smear test currently known as cervical screening test is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix (entrance to the womb from the vagina). Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer—The Pap test or Pap Smear and The HPV test.

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancer cells on the cervix. A plastic or metal instrument, called speculum will be use to widen the vagina. Then, the doctor will collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it. The laboratory will check if the sample cells are normal
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause changes in the cells.

The Pap Test and HPV test are recommended for all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old.

Always ask for your doctor’s opinion. You may have an HPV test along with your Pap Test. The doctor may also perform a pelvic exam, checking your uterus, ovaries, and other organs to make sure there are no problems. There are times when your doctor may perform a pelvic exam without giving you a Pap test.


How to Prepare for Your Pap Test

You should not schedule your Pap test for a time when you are having your period. If you are going to have a Pap test in the next two days—

  • You should not douche (rinse the vagina with water or another fluid).
  • You should not use a tampon.
  • You should not have sex.
  • You should not use a birth control foam, cream, or jelly.
  • You should not use a medicine or cream in your vagina.


Prevent Cervical Cancer with the Right Test at the Right Time

Early detection may prevent cervical cancer. Women ages between 21 to 65 years old must continue getting a Pap test as directed by their doctor. Co-testing, having both Pap test and HPV test, is recommended for women ages 30 years and older. If the test results are normal, the chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. The doctor may then tell you that you can wait as long as five years for your next screening. But you should still have a regular check-up with your doctor. Only the doctor will decide if you do not need to have a Pap test anymore. Say, if you are older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for several years, or if you have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions, like fibroids.


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