Pap smear is a screening test that is carried out on the cervix to determine the risk of cancer. It may also be referred to as Pap test, papanicolau test, smear test or cervical smear. It is administered by gynecologists. An abnormal pap smear is a test that indicates that there are changes in the normal status of the cervix. However, this should not be a cause for alarm since not all changes are cancerous. Women must always undergo routine pap smears to rule out cancer and get advice on how to act on anything unusual.
The cervix has cells, which develop just like any other organ. This growth may at times cause damage to the cells. This may cause an abnormal Pap smear result. To ensure they do not develop into cancers, these damaged cells are removed. That is why it is very important to get a Pap smear test to ensure that such abnormalities are corrected. The cervix may register precancerous changes that vary according to the risk they pose. These tests are documented by the Pap smear test and they are all referred to as Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN). They are however graded in different levels, that is, CIN 1, CIN 2, and CIN 3. CIN 1 refers to those precancerous cells that are mild. They are not yet dangerous and are dismissed by doctors, as they do not pose any health risk to the patient. They clear on their own after some time. CIN 2 is moderate though it could have a potential risk. That is why it calls for further tests and evaluation. The same case applies to CIN 3, which is referred to as severe. If women embrace pap smears, cervical cancers can be eliminated.
It is important to note that cervical cancers are caused by the Human Pappillomavirus (HPV). This condition is sexually transmitted and is most common with younger women. Women who have had regular sex encounters are advised to run pap smears. Also prone to this condition are women who smoke. However, not all HPV’s cause cervical cancer. The good news is that cervical cancer takes years to manifest itself fully and that is why pap smears should be done religiously. Those starting out on the smears ought to do them after three or five years. Those who have had them ought to make it a yearly ritual. There is a HPV vaccine but pap smears are still encouraged even in the face of these vaccines. Pap smears can be done anytime during a woman’s life but it is less advisable when menstruating. This procedure is comfortable though different women may register discomfort. Those suffering from cervical stenosis may experience pain. The after effects of a pap smear may include cramping or spotting. Abnormal pap smears are few in number and even those reported as abnormal are mild. The Bethesda System is used in reporting the abnormal pap smears. These abnormalities include the herpes simplex virus, yeast, and trichomoniasis. They also report the Squamous Cell abnormalities as well as abnormalities in the glandular epithelial cell.