A Pap smear test is a preventive measure that can detect precancerous or cancerous cervical cells. A yearly Pap smear is performed as part of a regular gynecological exam. A Pap smear involves obtaining cells from the cervix for examination. Cervix cancer that is identified and treated early is associated with good outcomes. Precancerous cells approach 100% curable.
Cervical cancer occurs when the cells in the cervix grow abnormally or out of control. The exact cause of cervical cancer is unknown. Certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, cause most cases of cervical cancer. A vaccine is available to prevent infection against the two types of HPV that are responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases and the two types of HPV that are responsible for the majority of genital wart cases.
Annual pap smear testing and pelvic examinations and should begin when a woman becomes sexually active or after the age of 20. A Pap smear identifies abnormal cellular changes, precancerous cells, or cancerous cells. If the results of your Pap smear are abnormal, your doctor may repeat your Pap smear and conduct additional tests.