The Pap Test is the best way to detect changes in the cells of the cervix, often before they become serious. The cervix is the opening of a woman’s uterus into the vagina. A thin layer of tissue, similar to the skin inside your mouth, covers the cervix. During the Pap test, your doctor will take a small sampling of the cells from your cervix and send them to a lab, where they will be looked at under a microscope to determine any abnormalities.
Some common cervical disorders include:
- Cervicitis: inflammation of the cervix that may be caused by infection or irritation.
- Polyps: benign (not cancer) growths on the cervix that may cause vaginal bleeding.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): a common virus spread through sexual contact that can cause genital warts or increased risk of cervical cancer.
- Dysplasia: cervical disorder caused by abnormal cells replacing normal, benign cells on the cervix.
- Cervical Cancer: when abnormal cells move deeper into the tissue layers of the cervix or spreads to other organs.