What is cervical smear?

The cervix is at the lower part of the uterus. The cervix joins the uterus to the vagina. Cervical smear (also known as Pap Smear) is a quick and simple test for women to detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix, which may progress to cancer if ignored. Cervical smear is a screening test for detecting early abnormal changes in the cervix. When such changes are found, they can be treated before cancer develops. It is NOT a diagnostic test for cervical cancer. A screening test is a test to be done at regular intervals to detect early abnormal changes when an individual has no vaginal symptoms. About 90% of cervical smear results are normal. If abnormal cells are detected on the cervical smear, further tests are needed to see whether the changes are serious or not. Cervical smear can pick up early changes effectively but is not 100% accurate. It means that the test may sometimes wrongly give abnormal result from a normal cervix or may sometimes miss real abnormality (this may occur if there are a small number of cells in the specimen). Therefore, you should consult your doctor if you notice any symptoms, even if your recent smear result is normal. Although cervical smear is not 100% accurate, it is widely used in many countries for the prevention of cervical cancer. Cervical smear cannot detect other cancers such as cancer of ovary or uterus, and is not for testing sexually transmitted diseases.