PAP Test, smear and vaginal cytology
Besides screening for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and identifying high-risk carcinogenic genotypes, the PAP test is very important in the screening (prevention) of cervical cancer. When performed regularly, the test quickly identifies abnormal cells in the cervix before they turn into cancer cells. Indeed, since the discovery of the test method by Dr. George Papanicolau in 1928 and its introduction into current medical practice more than half a century ago, the use of the test has reduced the number of deaths by cancer of the cervix, with more than 75%.
What is the PAP test?
The PAP test or cervico-vaginal cytological examination consists of the analysis of a sample of cells (smear) taken from the surface of the cervix (cervix) and its main objective is to detect modified (abnormal) cervical cells or atypical. These changes may go away on their own without treatment, but some of them may progress to cervical cancer. Therefore, their early detection is very important. Also, the test is used to check for signs of other infections in that area. The procedure is painless, non-invasive, and quick.
Types of PAP tests
There are two types of PAP tests: classic and liquid.
Conventional PAP test
After collection at the clinic, the sample is immediately placed on the slide and fixed. It does not test for the presence of high-risk HPV strains at the same time, in the same sample, but the test is as effective in detecting abnormal cells as it is in liquid media.
PAP test in liquid media
The sample is placed in a vial containing a special media and then sent to the laboratory for analysis. This occurs without loss or damage to the harvested cells.
The liquid-based PAP test has certain advantages over the conventional test:
- reduces the possibility that the sample will be considered unsatisfactory for interpretation and that a repeat sample will be required;
- allows simultaneous testing of the same sample for the presence of high-risk HPV genotypes.