The PAP Smear
To most women, the annual gyn exam and the pap smear are the same thing. Actually, they are not. The pap is a test invented by Dr. Papanicolou, a Greek gynecologist who devised the pap smear as way of detecting cervical cancer in its early stages. Done as part of the annual gyn exam, the doctor (or midwife or ANP) rubs a brush and spatula in the cervix and sends these cells of to the laboratory. In the lab, the technician looks for the early signs of cervical cancer. The pap has now made advanced cervical caner very rare. Today, the pap has evolved with newer laboratory techniques and the ability to check for HPV (human papilloma virus), and the guidelines as to when it needs to be checked, but it remains as always, a screening test for cervical cancer.