From the website: 'A Pap smear is a medical procedure in which a sample of cells from a woman's cervix (the end of the uterus that extends into the vagina) is collected and spread (smeared) on a microscope slide. The cells are examined under a microscope in order to look for pre-malignant (before-cancer) or malignant (cancer) changes.
A Pap test is simple, quick, and relatively painless.
Women generally should have a Pap Smear 3 years after first sexual intercourse or at 21 years old (whatever comes first). Different organisations vary their screening guidelines from once every year to every 3 years.'
From the website: 'The Pap smear doesn't diagnose a disease but instead acts as a screening test to alert your doctor to check further.
* Normal. Your test is negative - no abnormal cells are detected. You won't need any further treatment or testing until you're due for your next Pap smear and pelvic exam.
* Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. Squamous cells are thin and flat and grow on the surface of a healthy cervix. In this case, the Pap smear reveals slightly abnormal squamous cells, but the changes don't clearly suggest that precancerous cells are present. With the liquid-based test, your doctor can reanalyze the sample to check for the presence of viruses known to promote the development of cancer, such as HPV. If no viruses are present, the abnormal cells found as a result of the test aren't of great concern. If worrisome viruses are present, you'll need further testing.
* Squamous intraepithelial lesion. This term is used to indicate that the cells collected from the Pap smear may be precancerous. If the changes are low-grade, the size, shape and other characteristics of the cells suggest that if a precancerous lesion is present, it's likely to be years away from becoming a cancer. If the changes are high-grade, there's a greater chance that the lesion may develop into cancer much sooner. Diagnostic testing is necessary.
* Atypical glandular cells. Glandular cells produce mucus and grow in the opening of your cervix and within your uterus. Atypical glandular cells may appear to be slightly abnormal, but it's unclear whether they're cancerous. Further testing is needed to determine the source of the abnormal cells.
* Squamous cancer or adenocarcinoma cells. The cells collected for the Pap smear appear so abnormal that the pathologist is almost certain a cancer is present in the vagina, cervix or, occasionally, the uterus. If such cells are found, your doctor immediately investigates further.
Upon finding an abnormality, your doctor may decide to examine the tissues through a special microscope in a procedure called colposcopy and take a tissue sample (biopsy). Colposcopy often provides a definitive diagnosis.
Page Title: 'Women Sexual Health: Pap Smears. Information, Procedure,
Abnormal Results, HPV, Cervical Cancer, Female Anatomy'.
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