A Pap Smear is a medical procedure in which a sample of cells from a woman’s cervix is collected and 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. It is a screening tool to find early warning signs that cancer might develop. If abnormal changes are found at screening, further tests will be done to see if treatment is needed.
A Pap Smear only takes a few minutes. No drugs or anaesthetics are required. The Pap Smear is not intended to detect other forms of cancer such as those of the ovary, vagina, or uterus. It is not a check for sexually transmitted infections. Cancer of these organs may be discovered during the course of the gynecologic (pelvic) exam, which usually is done at the same time as the Pap Smear.