In gynecology, the Papanikolaou test or Papanicolaou test (also called Pap smear, Pap test, cervical smear, or smear test) is a medical screening method for detecting infectious, premalignant, and malignant processes in the ectocervix, endocervix and endometrium.
The pre-cancerous changes (called dysplasias or cervical or endocervical intraepithelial neoplasia) are usually caused by sexually transmitted human papillomaviruses (HPVs).
The test aims to detect and prevent the progression of HPV-induced cervical cancer and other abnormalities in the female genital tract by sampling cells from the outer opening of the cervix of the uterus and the endocervix.
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Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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