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1. What is a pap smear?
A Pap (Papanicolaou) smear or Pap test is a screening method to test for the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells in the cervix (narrow neck forming the lower part of the uterus) of women. This procedure requires the collection of cervical cells and can be used for early detection as well as for prediction of development of cervical cancer.
2. Are there any other tests done with pap smear?
The Pap smear is generally performed coupled with a pelvic exam. However, in women who are older than 30 years, the Pap test may be performed in combination with an additional test for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common sexually transmitted infection that is known to cause cervical cancer.
3. Who should frequently take pap smear?
Routine Pap smear is recommended in women who have:
weakened immune system caused by organ transplant, chemotherapy, or long-term corticosteroid use
cervical cancer or abnormal cells have been detected in Pap smear
had exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
a family history of cervical cancer
a habit of smoking
4. Can I stop pap smear if I had a total hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is a surgical operation for the removal of the uterus, including the cervix. It is better to take the advise of your doctor about any further need for Pap test. Generally, your doctor will tell you to continue Pap testing only if the hysterectomy was done as a result of cancerous or precancerous condition to the cervix.
5. Do I need to continue with pap testing if I am 70 years old?
If you are older than 65 years of age and all the past tests for Pap smear were negative for cervical cancer, then your doctor might recommend discontinuing Pap test. If you do have sexual contact with multiple partners, your doctor may tell you to continue with Pap smear screening in spite of your age.