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1 What is a pap smear ? on Wed May 26, 2010 2:34 pm

What exactly is a pap smear and does it hurt?

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2 Re: What is a pap smear ? on Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:13 pm

What Is The Pap Smear ?

The Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a painless, noninvasive procedure that doctors and other specially trained healthcare providers use to screen for cancer of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus, or womb, where a baby grows).

This procedure involves

•collecting cells from the cervix and the vagina

•preparing the cell sample for evaluation under a microscope

•examining the cell sample for infections, abnormal cells that may grow into a cancerous tumor, and cancer

The Pap smear is a screening technique. It is used to detect cervical cancer or cervical abnormalities that might become cancer in women who don't have any symptoms of these conditions.

The Pap smear cannot prove that a woman doesn't have cervical cancer, but it can detect 95 percent of all cervical cancers and precancerous abnormalities. It is not a diagnostic test used to identify the illness or condition responsible for symptoms.

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3 Re: What is a pap smear ? on Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:16 pm

How Is A Pap Smear Performed ?

A Pap smear is performed in a doctor's office, hospital, or clinic by a

•doctor

•physician assistant

•nurse midwife

•nurse practitioner

or other specially trained healthcare provider. Each of these professionals is also qualified to perform a pelvic examination, which can help detect cancer in female reproductive organs other than the cervix.

During a pelvic examination, the woman takes off her clothes, puts on a short paper or cotton gown that opens in the front, and lies on her back on an examining table. She positions herself for the Pap smear by bending her knees, aligning the tops of her thighs with the edge of the table, and placing her feet in stirrups or supports.

The healthcare provider performing the examination

•looks for lumps, sores, inflammation, or other abnormalities of her external genitals

•inserts a metal or plastic instrument called a speculum into the vagina..

•uses a small disposable swab, wooden spatula, brush, or soft-bristled "broom" to remove cells from the entrance to the canal that connects the cervix with the uterus.

•may also remove cells from the back of the cervical canal.

•places the cell sample on a glass slide, which is sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope.


After removing the speculum, the healthcare provider gently inserts two gloved fingers into the woman's vagina and places his or her other hand on her abdomen. This enables the examiner to determine the size, shape, and consistency of the woman's uterus, ovaries, vagina, and fallopian tubes. After completing this part of the examination, the examiner inserts a gloved finger into the woman's rectum to detect abnormalities of the rectum and nearby structures.

A woman may feel some mild discomfort, cramping, or pressure during a Pap smear or pelvic exam. These procedures should not be painful.

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