Pap Smears

The best defense against cervical cancer is early detection. That is why yearly routine exams (or more frequently if problems arise) are recommended. In this section are some frequently asked questions you may have.

What is a Pap test?

The Pap test, also called a Pap smear, checks for changes in the cells of your cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens into the vagina (birth canal). The Pap test can tell if you have an infection, abnormal (unhealthy) cervical cells, or cervical cancer.

Why do I need a Pap test?

A Pap test can save your life. It can find the earliest signs of cervical cancer – a common cancer in women. If caught early, the chance of curing cervical cancer is very high. Pap tests also can find infections and abnormal cervical cells that can turn into cancer cells. Treatment can prevent most cases of cervical cancer from developing.

Getting regular Pap tests is the best thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer. About 13,000 women in America will find out they have cervical cancer this year. And in2007,about 4,000 women died from cervical cancer in the United States.

Do all women need Pap tests?

It is important for most women to have pap tests, along with pelvic exams, as part of their routine health care. According to the newest guidelines from the American Congress of ObGyn, you need a Pap test if you are 21 years or older.

There is no age limit for the Pap test. Even women who have gone through menopause (when a woman’s periods stop) may need regular Pap tests.