Pap Smear (Cervical Cytology)
When we think of cervical cancer screenings, we usually think of going to a healthcare provider’s office, undressing, putting your feet up in stirrups and waiting for the speculum exam. This process allows a healthcare provider to collect cells from inside of the cervix which are observed under a microscope by a cytologist or pathologist. The cytologist will determine if the cells look abnormal - which could indicate cervical cancer or pre-cancer.
For a HPV test, a sample is collected from inside the vagina, close to the cervix. The sample is processed to look for high risk HPV DNA. If high risk HPV strains are not present - the risk of developing cervical cancer in the near future is very unlikely, since most cases of cervical cancer is caused by high risk HPV. If high risk HPV DNA is detected- you should have additional testing including a pap smear or a colposcopy to ensure any cervical cell changes are found and treated early - to prevent the development of cervical cancer.