What is Pap Testing?

What is a Pap test?

This is a simple test that can help prevent cervical cancer. It is sometimes called a Pap smear. The Pap test detects cell changes on your cervix that, if left untreated for several years, could eventually turn into cervical cancer.

When changes in cervical cells are found early, they can often be treated effectively before they become dangerous — regular Pap testing can reduce cervical cancer deaths by 70 per cent.

Your health-care provider will ask you to lie down on the examination table. He or she will insert a speculum into your vagina — this tool may feel cold and slightly uncomfortable, but will not hurt. It will allow your health-care provider to see your cervix. Using a slender tool that sometimes has a small brush or cotton swab on the end, some cells will be taken from your cervix and sent to a laboratory for analysis. A Pap test takes only a few minutes. It may take the laboratory a few weeks to analyze the cells. Often, your health-care provider will contact you only if the results are abnormal.

More information on Pap testing: