Your check-up – Pap smear
Posted on 24 January 2013
A routine check-up is quick and easy – and essential for your long-term health. We look at how investing a little time in your health today can add years to your future by taking one simple test.
A Pap smear is used to detect abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix. Abnormal cells may be an early sign of cervical cancer.
Why should I take the test?
Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer amongst South African women. But the good news is that if it is detected early, cervical cancer can be treated successfully.
When should I take the test?
Once you’re 21 or sexually active (whichever happens first), you should have a Pap smear every two years. After 30, if you’ve had three consecutive negative results, you can cut down to a smear only once every three years.
What can I expect during the test?
During a pelvic exam, your doctor will scrape or brush cells off the lining of the cervix. The cells are placed on a microscope slide and sent for laboratory analysis.
What do my results mean?
A healthy result is negative where all cells look normal when viewed under a microscope.
Positive: Some abnormal cells can be seen on the microscope slide. You may have to undergo further tests to confirm a diagnosis.