Pap smear is known after the scientist Papanicolaou who established this technique. It is a simple screening test for cervical cancer and precancer.
Indication: All women in reproductive age group who are sexually active should have Pap Smear routinely every one to two years. Early stages of all cancers are asymptomatic. Fortunately the uterine cervix is an exposed organ, has a long (5-10years) precancerous stage and Pap Smear can very effectively pick up even the early stages.
Technique: It is a simple, painless OPD procedure. The fluid containing the cells from the surface of the cervix is collected during a standard gynaecological examination. A simple specialy designed spatula is gently swept over the cervix. This material is immediately spread over a slide, fixed and sent to the laboratory for processing. There is no cutting of tissues. It is not a biopsy.
Report: If abnormal cells are seen in the slide further confirmatory tests such as colposcopy or biopsy are recommended by the gynaecologist.
Recommendation: Regular Pap Smear for all sexually active females during the reproductive age groups. Universal screening and effective treatment of pre-malignant lesions have significantly reduced the incidence of invasive cervical cancer in the developed countries.