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What is a Pap smear ?

In 1928, Dr. Papanicolaou discovered that cells in the cervix change in appearance before the cancer. The Pap smear, named after the doctor is used to determine whether changes in the cervix (neck of the uterus) at the top of the vagina. It is a tool for screening to find early signs of cancer could develop in the future.

The Pap smear is a simple procedure. Cells taken from the cervix and placed (smeared) on the frame. This image is sent to the laboratory where cells are tested for anything unusual. If abnormal changes are available on the examination, further tests are carried out to determine whether treatment is necessary.

The Pap smear is not for the diagnosis of cancer, but also for early detection of changes that could be cancer.

A Pap smear takes only a few minutes. No drugs or anesthesia is necessary, and this can be done in a doctor, nurse or worker women.

The Pap smear does not, whether there are other problems on the reproductive system. This is not about control of sexually transmitted infections. Women who fear that may have a sexually transmitted infection should discuss with your doctor about testing and treatment available.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
In the early stages of cervical cancer, are usually no symptoms. The only way to detect changes as a Pap smear.

If you have abnormal vaginal bleeding (including intermittent bleeding, bleeding after sex or after menopause), or persistent abnormal vaginal discharge (bloody or offensive) or pelvic pain, you should contact your doctor.

Who is at risk?
The risk of cervical cancer increases with age. All women with a uterus who sometimes sex at some point of their lives at risk of cervical cancer. About half of all new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in women over 50 years. Women in this age group are less likely than younger women to have regular Pap smears. More women aged over 50 die from cervical cancer because their cancer diagnosed at a later stage, when treatment is difficult.

What is the cause of cervical cancer?
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that in most cases (80%) was approved in the body that the immune system 8-14 months. The presence of HPV can be detected by Pap smears. Some women who have persistent infection, the development of abnormalities of the cervix. It is therefore important to ensure a regular Pap smear.

How effective is the Pap smear?
Regular Pap smears every two years can help prevent up to 90 percent of the most common form of cervical cancer.

Like all screening procedures, Pap smear has limitations. Sometimes this is not detect early cell changes as it did not contain enough smear abnormal cells. Sometimes samples are difficult to interpret because of blood or mucus on the slide. If this occurs, a doctor or nurse may require that you are in the Pap smear.

How often should I get the Pap smear?

All women over 18 years old, who once noted that sex is a Pap smear every two years, although no longer have sex. When a woman starts sexual activity at an earlier age, should start within two years from the first sexual intercourse.

Given that the most common type of cervical cancer usually takes 10 years to develop, there is little advantage to Pap smear more frequently than once every two years.

Your doctor may recommend more frequent Pap smears as the smears showed significant cell changes, or you have problems such as bleeding or pain after sex.

I got through menopause, do I still need a Pap smear?
Yes, the risk, as cervical cancer increases with age, it is important to take Pap smears every two years, even after menopause.

I need a Pap smear if I have a hysterectomy?

If your hysterectomy was only partial, and your uterus is removed, you still need a Pap smear every two years. If you have a total hysterectomy, that is your uterus and cervix is removed, it will still need a Pap smear. Ask your doctor to be absolutely sure.

By women with disabilities have Pap smears?

Yes, all women with a uterus who sometimes sex at the risk of cervical cancer. One of the main objectives of the National Cervical Screening Program is that its services are available for all Australian women.

In all countries and territories, women have access to free telephone line (13 15 56) for further information on cervical cancer screening, including access issues. This provides women with disabilities may be directed to a doctor who is best able to meet their individual needs.

In several countries and areas, the strategy was adopted to meet the needs of women with disabilities who wish to have a Pap smear, including:

  • Purchase of adjustable examination couches;
  • Development of facilities specially designed for women with physical (including visual and hearing) and / or mental disabilities;
  • Reference to the Pap smear providers who can meet the specific needs of women in terms of physical and mental disability.

For more information on access to the National Cervical Screening Program services, ring 13 15 56 (for the price of a local call). Alternatively, contact your state or territory of the National Cervical Screening Program on

When should I stop Pap smears?
If you are 70 years or older and have two normal Pap smears in the last five years, you do not hold with the Pap smear, if you want to do. Women over 70 years of age who never had a Pap smear, or those with a Pap smear may be appointed by the screened.

How much does it cost?
There are two benefits in the Pap smear - doctor or nurse practitioner practice standards consultation fee and the Pap smear pathology test. Many doctors, hospitals, health centers and pathology services (laboratory) Bill collective 'that case, there is the cost of the Pap smear or consultation.

If charges are made, the cost to you, the difference between the Medicare rebate and doctors and providers of pathology (laboratory) charges. In some cases, you will be asked to pay the full amount and then apply for a rebate from Medicare.

Ask for information about where the meeting.

Where can I go for a Pap smear?
If you want a meeting with Pap smear, please contact:
  • Your family doctor;
  • A community or women's health centers;
  • A family planning and sexual health clinic;
  • A female nurse, or
  • The Aboriginal Medical Service.

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