A painless quick PAP test (named after the human papillomavirus-HPV) can detect abnormal tissue, HPV infection that can lead to cervical cancer. High risks for developing abnormal cervical tissue or cervical cancer include: intercourse at an early age, multiple partners, history of the sexually transmitted diseases (STD)- genital warts (caused by HPV virus) or herpes, HIV injection or immune deficiency (ex. transplant recipient). Also smoking has been associated wither casual or directly with abnormal cervical tissue. As always you need to be totally honest with your health care provider most especially as regards your sexual history.
Generally speaking women age 21 – 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years, thereafter till age 65 every 5 years. After age 65 you can stop having a Pap test!
As in too many medical procedural tests a false positive or false-negative are possible. To decrease odds follow these simple steps: no douching, use vaginal medication, spermicide or lubrication for 3 days before the test.
If your report reveals abnormalities ask for details the specifics and the significance. Cell abnormalities can be from the outer or the inner cervix or they can contain changes of ‘low or ‘high’ grade signifying “precancer” or the test result might show cancer cells. It might not be a simple positive or negative.