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pap smear

A Pap smear is a test the doctor does to check for signs of cancer of the cervix. The cervix is part of the uterus (womb). During a Pap smear, the doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix, and the sample is sent to a laboratory for testing.


The cells on the slide are checked for signs that they are changing from normal to abnormal. Cells go through a series of changes before they turn into cancer. A Pap smear can show if cells are going through these changes long before the patient actually has cancer


A normal Pap smear means that all the cells in the cervix are normal and healthy.

An abnormal Pap smear can be a sign of a number of changes in the cells on the cervix:

  • Inflammation - This can be caused by an infection of the cervix, including a yeast infection, infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) the herpes virus or many other infections.
  • Abnormal cells - These changes are called cervical dysplasia. The cells are not cancer cells, but may become cancer cells.
  • Signs of cancer - These changes affect the top layers of the cervix but don't go beyond the cervix.
  • Signs of advanced cancer.

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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton Hamilton. Phone: 609-586-7900 Physician Referral: 609-584-5900.

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