Papanicolaou Smear
(Pap Smear)

Alternate Names

  • PAP Test
  • Cervical Smear
  • Cervical/Vaginal Cytology

A small amount of vaginal secretion is taken during a routine GYN examine. The secretion is then smeared onto a slide, and examined with a microscope for the presence of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells may be either pre-cancerous or cancerous. A Pap Smear is extremely accurate when used to detect cervical cancer and to monitor for recurrence following cancer treatment, but it is not as accurate when used to detect uterine cancer. A Pap Smear can also be used to detect infertility problems by measuring the amount of hormones present that regulate menstruation, which is an indication of how well your ovaries are functioning. Abnormal cells can also be seen when STDs, infection due to HPV (human papilloma virus) or herpes simplex, fungus or parasites are present. Consult with your doctor for the frequency of testing, which will vary according to your age and whether you have had abnormal Pap Smear results in the past.

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