Cervical smear test

A test to detect cervical dysplasia (abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix) that could develop into cervical cancer (see cervix, cancer of). A smear test also detects viral infections of the cervix, such as herpes simplex and papilloma (see warts, genital). The test should be carried out 6 months after a woman starts to have sexual intercourse, with a repeat test 6–12 months later, and then every 3 years. A sample of cells is taken from the surface of the cervix using a spatula and examined under a microscope. If cells appear normal, nothing further needs to be done. If cells show dysplasia, further investigations may be required.


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