A brush or spatula is used to gently take some samples of the cells from the cervix. The cells from the cervix are then taken to the laboratory to be checked under a microscope.
For a Pap Smear, abnormalities in the cervix cells are checked while the HPV Test checks if the patient is positive for any HPV strains that might cause cervical cancer.
Additional Diagnostic Test for Women
Getting a Pap Smear vs HPV test is not the only decision a woman has to make with their doctor. They might also talk about the other diagnostic tests.
As women get older, they are more likely to develop diseases in their reproductive systems. Getting the prescribed routine test for your age can significantly reduce the risk of developing infections and diseases.
Here are other tests women should consider taking:
A low-dose x-ray used to detect breast cancer. Mammography can detect early and subtle signs of breast cancer even before the patient feels any lumps or shows any signs or symptoms of the disease.
Ovarian Reserve Test
A test that checks the potential number of eggs a woman has in her ovaries.
Sonogram of the pelvic area
Ultrasound imaging used to check for abnormalities in the womb and fallopian tube. This test also checks if the patient has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common condition caused by an imbalance in the hormones that sometimes lead to infertility.
Tests for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
If a woman is sexually active it is advised that she have a full panel STD test at least once a year. Many STDs do not manifest signs and symptoms which makes them difficult to detect early. Full-panel STD test usually includes tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis, herpes, and syphilis. Blood and urine samples are taken for these tests.
It takes years or even decades before HPV can cause cancer so getting an HPV test is important for early detection especially for women over the age 30. An HPV test is usually done together with a Pap Smear. Routinary diagnostic tests usually depend on the age and the risk factors of the patient. Diagnostic tests for women include mammography, a sonogram of the pelvic area, ovarian reserve test, and a full-panel STD test.
Learn more about Sexual Wellness and HPV here.