“Cervical cancer can often be found early, and sometimes even prevented entirely, by having regular Pap tests. If detected early, cervical cancer is…”.1

Umbrella
What may the Pap Test Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Cervical Screening Procedure/Test
  • Pap Smear
  • Pap Smear Test
  • Pap Test
  • Smear Test

Pap Test

What is a Pap test?

DotS the definition of a Pap test may vary. The (United States) National Institute of Cancer’s (NCI) definition is:

“A Pap test is a procedure to collect cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina. A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the cervix and vagina. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal. This procedure is also called a Pap smear”.2

Cervical Screening

What is cervical screening?

DotS the definition of cervical screening may vary. The United Kingdom) NHS’s (National Health Service) definition is:

  • “Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina
  • It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer”.3

Cervical Cancer

What does a Pap test screen for?

In Cervical Cancer Screening (PDQ)–Patient Version: Cervical Cancer Screening – Key Points [+ Images] the NCI explain:

Pap Test

“A Pap test is commonly used to screen for cervical cancer”.4

Ovarian Cancer

Does a Pap test screen for ovarian cancer?

No. Ovarian Cancer: Early Detection, Staging and Diagnosis – Can Ovarian Cancer Be Found Early? Ways To Find Ovarian Cancer Early – Regular Women’s Health Exams the American Cancer Society (ACS) note:

“The Pap test is effective in early detection of cervical cancer, but it isn’t a test for ovarian cancer”.5

Uterine, Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers

Does a Pap test screen for uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers?

No. In Gynecologic Cancers: Uterine Cancer – What Should I Know About Screening? the (United States) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain:

“The Pap test does not screen for uterine cancer. The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical cancer”.6

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Does a Pap test screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

In Sexually Transmitted Infections: Does A Pap Test Screen for STIs? the Office on Women’s Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Womenshealth.gov explain:

“No. Pap testing is mainly used to look for cell changes that could be cancer or precancer. However, your doctor may test you for HPV in addition to doing the Pap test if you are older than 30. If you want to be tested for STIs, you must ask your doctor or nurse”.7

In STD Testing: What’s Right for You? the (United States) Mayo Clinic also caution:

“Don’t assume that you’re receiving STI testing every time you have a gynecologic exam or Pap test. If you think you need STI testing, request it from your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and what tests you’d like or need”.8

HIV

Does a Pap test screen for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)?

No. In HIV and AIDS: Diagnosis the NHS note:

“The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test, as symptoms of HIV may not appear for many years. Anyone who thinks they could have HIV should get tested”.9

Early Detection

Is there an association between the early detection of cervical cancer and regular Pap tests.

In Cervical Cancer the ACS explain:

“Cervical cancer can often be found early, and sometimes even prevented entirely, by having regular Pap tests. If detected early, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers”.10

Not Screened

Is there an association between cervical cancer and not having regular Pap Tests?

In Cervical Cancer: Cervical Cancer Early Detection and Prevention – The American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Prevention and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer: Importance of Being Screened for Cervical Cancer the ACS note:

“Despite the recognized benefits of cervical cancer screening, not all American women get screened. Most cervical cancers are found in women who have never had a Pap test or who have not had one recently. Women without health insurance and women who have recently immigrated are less likely to have cervical cancer screening”.11

Start

When may women start regular Pap tests?

Depending on You (DoY), DotS and/or DoYC’s (Depending on Your Country’s) cervical cancer screening program, when women start regular Pap tests can vary. It may therefore be in your best interest to choose to check what’s-what for you.

In HPV and Pap Testing: When Should A Woman Begin Cervical Cancer Screening, and How Often Should She Be Screened? the NCI explain:

Pap Test “Women should talk with their doctor about when to start screening and how often to be screened”.12

In Changes To Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines  and Proposed Changes To Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines the (United States) National Cervical Cancer Coalition explain how the cervical cancer screening guidelines have been updated in the United States.

Stop

When may women stop regular Pap tests?

DoY, DotS and/or DoYC’s cervical screening program, when women stop regular Pap tests can vary. It may therefore be in your best interest to choose to check with your health care provider what’s-what for you.

A Mayo Clinic author explains:

“If you’re unsure whether you still need Pap tests, discuss with your doctor what’s best for you”.13

Screening Programs

Pap Test Where may women find information about cervical cancer screening or early detection programs?

Women may find information about cervical cancer screening or early detection programs from their health care provider, or their country’s equivalent of a local community health center or a national and/or state Department/Center/Institute of Aging/Cancer/Disease Control and Prevention/Health/Human Services.

Or your country may have a free cervical cancer screening or early detection program similar to Australia’s, the United Kingdom’s or the United States’.

United States’ Screening Program

What is the United States’ cervical cancer early detection program?

In National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP): Find A Screening Program Near You the CDC elaborate on:

“CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women across the United States”.14

Health Care Provider

What if I would like a Pap test?

If you would like a Pap Test, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this or find out about a cervical cancer screening or early detection program.

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Pap Tests?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

Where may I find Links related to Pap Tests?

Your Country may have Links similar to:

Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Cervical Cancer. American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/index Accessed: 25 March 2020
  2. Cervical Cancer Screening (PDQ)–Patient Version: Cervical Cancer Screening – A Pap Test Is Commonly Used To Screen for Cervical Cancer. Updated 08 March 2019. National Cancer Institute https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/cervical/Patient/page3 Accessed: 25 March 2020
  3. Cervical Screening: Overview. Page Last Reviewed: 26 February 2019. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/ Accessed: 25 March 2020
  4. Cervical Cancer Screening (PDQ)–Patient Version: Cervical Cancer Screening – Key Points. Updated 08 March 2019. National Cancer Institute https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/ Accessed: 25 March 2020
  5. Ovarian Cancer: Early Detection, Staging, and Diagnosis – Can Ovarian Cancer Be Found Early? Ways To Find Ovarian Cancer Early – Regular Women’s Health Exams. Last Medical Review: 11 April 2018. Last Revised: 11 April 2018. American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-detection Accessed: 25 March 2020
  6. Gynecologic Cancers: Uterine Cancer – What Should I Know About Screening? Page Last Reviewed: 09 August 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/uterine/basic_info/screening.htm Accessed: 25 March 2020
  7. Sexually Transmitted Infections: Does A Pap Test Screen for STIs? Medical Review In 2017. Page Last Updated: 11 June 2019. Office on Women’s Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Womenshealth.gov https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/sexually-transmitted-infections Accessed: 25 March 2020
  8. STD Testing: What’s Right for You? 01 August 2017. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/in-depth/std-testing/art-20046019 Accessed: 25 March 2020
  9. HIV and AIDS: Diagnosis. Page Last Reviewed: 03 April 2018. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/diagnosis/ Accessed: 25 March 2020
  10. Cervical Cancer. American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/index Accessed: 25 March 2020
  11. Cervical Cancer: Cervical Cancer Early Detection and Prevention – The American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Prevention and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer: Importance of Being Screened for Cervical Cancer. Last Medical Review: 20 November 2016. Last Revised: 28 December 2018. American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/moreinformation/cervicalcancerpreventionandearlydetection/cervical-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines Accessed: 25 March 2020
  12. HPV and Pap Testing: When Should A Woman Begin Cervical Cancer Screening, and How Often Should She Be Screened? Reviewed: 20 December 2019. National Cancer Institute https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/Pap-HPV-testing Accessed: 25 March 2020
  13. Burnett, T. Still Needed After Hysterectomy? 02 April 2019 https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pap-smear/expert-answers/pap-smear/faq-20058344 Accessed: 25 March 2020
  14. National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP): Find A Screening Provider Near You. Page Last Reviewed: 16 December 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp/screenings.htm Accessed: 25 March 2020
Topic Last Updated: 25 March 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 25 March 2020
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