Smear Test The cervical smear test (PAP test) is designed
to detect pre-cancerous changes in the cervix (neck of the
womb). Pre-cancerous changes in the skin of the cervix are
called CIN (Cervix;
the skin; New
cells or Cervical
Neoplasia). CIN (dysplasia or SIL) causes no symptoms. These changes are sometimes referred to as 'dysplasia' or 'SIL' (Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions). Women are not aware
of CIN unless they have a smear test.
The importance of CIN
There is a potential for pre-cancerous changes (CIN, SIL, or dysplasia) to become cancer. It is also possible
for CIN to resolve untreated. It is not possible to predict which woman's
CIN will go away untreated and which woman's
CIN will progress to cervix cancer.
It is not certain how long it takes and whar proportion of CIN develops into cancer. If preventive measures are not taken,
cancer develops in up to 50 per cent of cases. This might take several years to happen.
Those who should have a smear test
Most women 25 years or older should have regular smear tests (Pap tests). Most women over 65 no longer need smear tests.
You should consult your doctor for your specific screening needs.
How a smear test
The smear test (Pap test) is done at the same time as a pelvic exam.
A sample of cervix cells is taken with a
small brush. The specimen is immersed in a liquid. This newer
method of taking a semar test is called ‘Liquid Based Cytology’ and is a more
robust method of taking a smear test compared to the old method. The laboratory specialist will then
classify the smear test into one of a number of normal or
A normal smear test
The woman is informed and recommended to have the smear
test (Pap test) repeated in three or five years' dependant on her age.
abnormality on the smear test (Pap test)
The woman is informed and advised to have a smear
test (Pap test) in six months. If the smear test is classified
as having CIN1 then colposcopy
A larger abnormality on the smear test (Pap test)
The woman will be informed and invited to attend acolposcopy clinic for further investigation and treatment.