The scientific reference name for the Pap smear test is the Papanicolaou test. The test is name after its founder, scientist cum doctor, Georgios Papanikolaou. In his research, he found that the cervix cells change in appearance to quite a degree before they become entirely cancerous. So, this test helps in determination of precancerous cells which consequently can prove fatal to the individual.
This is test more commonly used to detect cancers in the female body. The procedure is basically performed to collect cells from the cervix for study. The cells are examined under the microscope. Abnormalities are recorded and treatment methods are employed if needed.
The guidelines for the Pap smear test are advocated by healthcare experts across the globe. The National Cancer Institute has given a detailed report on the execution of the procedure, frequency, etc.
The key points that need to be followed are:
- The test can be performed by clinicians. These are medical professionals who are specifically trained for such testing. Experts, Physicians, Midwives, etc are the people who can carry it out.
- The test is categorized as a gynecological test. It is performed to study the health and fitness of female organs such as vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, rectum, and other organs of the pelvic region.
- The test is important because it can help in detection of diseases such as cervical cancer which can develop in the cervix region of the woman. The main objective of this test is to discover cells which do not function normally and which can lead up to tumors and cancers. Benign tumors, inflammations and infections can also be detected by this method
- According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the screening must begin at the age of 21 years. The screening must be undertaken every 2 years. This frequency of testing can be decreased after the age of 30 to once in three years.
- If abnormalities are reported, the individual might need to undergo further medical procedures for analysis and confirmation of the condition.
- A woman who has been vaccinated for the HPV virus should also undergo the screening. Since the Pap smear test is basically done for cervical cancer which is caused by the HPV virus, it is presumed that a woman who has been vaccinated for the same may not need to undergo the test. This is an incorrect presumption because the body is not protected against all HPV viruses.
Vaccines for ultimate protection are not yet developed and hence, the Pap smear test is very essential and vital for women.