A Pap smear or Pap test is a simple in-office screening exam used to look for signs of cervical cancer. The test uses a brush with a long handle to remove a small number of surface cells from the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus. A Pap smear is performed in the office during a routine pelvic exam.
Most Pap tests are performed during routine pelvic exams but they can be performed at other times as well. While the patient is lying on her back, a lubricated instrument called a speculum is inserted into the vagina to widen the vaginal canal and make it easier to reach the cervix. A long-handled, soft brush is advanced through the vaginal opening to the cervix where it's used to gently remove a small sampling of cells from the surface of the cervix. These cells are sent to a lab where they can be carefully evaluated for the presence of abnormal cells.
Pap tests are painless and take just a few moments to perform.
No, while some abnormal results can be due to precancerous or cancerous cells, most abnormal Pap smear results are due to infection with the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a large family of viruses that can cause genital warts in some people. Other abnormal results can be due to yeast infections, hormonal fluctuations or other conditions. If the results of a Pap test are abnormal, a second Pap test may be ordered to confirm the results of the first test, or a second type of exam called a colposcopy may be performed. A colposcopy uses a lighted magnifying instrument to gain a better view of the cervix so small tissue samples (or biopsies) can be obtained for further evaluation. Like a Pap test, colposcopy can be performed in the office with no need for sedation.
Dr. Abha S. Gupta M.D., F.A.C.O.G. accepts most major insurances! Take a look at our list of the major insurances we accept and feel free to call us if you have any questions.