Why it is done?
A Pap test can detect infections, occurrence of abnormal cells which may turn cancerous and can also diagnose cervical cancer.
If cervical cancer is caught in the early stages, chances of recovery increase manifold. Due to simplicity of procedure, a pap test can be done in, outpatient setting or health camps and a large number of women can be screened for cervical cancer in cities and small towns and villages. This can bring down the mortality (or death rate) to a large extent.
How it is done?
The test is usually done by a gynaecologist or a trained practitioner. The woman is asked to lie on her back on the examination table with legs spread apart. The doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina to widen and visualise the cervix. Then a plastic spatula & brush are used to scrape the cervix and collect the cervical cells. Sample is then sent to laboratory for testing.
The procedure is not exactly painful but may cause some discomfort.
Precautions before doing a Pap test
Before a pap test, it is advisable to avoid douching, sexual intercourse and using vaginal creams 48 hours before the test is scheduled. All these may interfere with the results.