Reviewed by Joseph Maloney, MD
A Pap smear is a routine examination of the cervical tissue.
A Papanicolaou test, more commonly known as a Pap smear, is a microscopic examination of cells scraped from the cervix. The cells are placed on a slide and examined under a microscope to determine if abnormal cells are present. Pap smear is the most common test doctors administer to screen for cervical cancer. Doctors recommend an annual Pap smear for women over the age 20.
A Pap smear takes place during a gynecologic exam. Your doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina to dilate the passageway to the cervix before using a cotton swab to scrape cells from the side of the cervix. The doctor rubs the cotton swab onto the slide and sends it the laboratory for evaluation.
For the most accurate results, avoid intercourse, douching, using tampons, and bathing in a tub for 24 hours prior to the procedure.
Last updated: 04-Jun-07