1. What is Pap Test?
  2. How is it done?
  3. When can it be done?

What is Pap Test?

Pap Test, also known as Pap smear, is a diagnostic exam that takes its name from Dr Georgios Papanicolaou. The purpose of the test is to detect cervical cancer or possible alterations to the cells of the uterine cervix early (identification of precancerous cells on the cervix). It therefore allows to reduce the risk of cervical cancer diagnosis. This prevention test is indicated for women and young women as they are likely exposed to several risk factors for the development of cervical cancer due to their sexual activity, the most important of which is HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection. For this reason, recent studies have shown that viral DNA research test should be associated to Pap Test. For women aged 25-35 years, the test is recommended every 3 years.

How is it done?

It is a very simple test that consists in collecting a sample of cells from the neck of the uterus during a gynaecological examination. The test is done with a swab that allows to collect small quantities of mucus from the neck of the uterus and from the cervical canal. The material obtained will be placed on a slide with a liquid before being evaluated by a cytologist. The test is not painful or dangerous.

When can it be done?

The presence of menstruation is the only contraindication, because the menstrual flow does not allow the correct vision of the cervical cells. Gynaecologists recommend taking the test between the tenth and the twentieth day of the menstrual cycle. The use of oral and/or local (IUD) contraceptives is irrelevant for the test. In addition, pregnant women can also take the test with no danger for the foetus. Women that have been vaccinated against HPV should also take Pap tests regularly because even though the risk of contagion is lower, it is never completely absent.

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