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What is the Difference between PAP Smear, Thin Prep, and HPV Testing?

September 28, 2021

 

 

 

papsmear group

 

HLAC OCT DEC 1

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers today. Most cervical cancers are caused by certain strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact.

 

Even if you have had the HPV vaccination, it is still advisable to undergo regular cervical cancer screening if you are 25 years old and above, and have had sexual intercourse.

 

Traditionally, Pap smear tests involve taking a sample of cells from the cervix, which is smeared on a glass side and then analysed under the microscope.

 

Thin prep is a newer laboratory analysis method, where the sample of cervical cells are transferred to a container with a preservative fluid instead of being smeared on a glass slide. This is called liquid-based cytology. It is more accurate compared to the conventional Pap smear test.

 

Screening using the Pap smear and thin prep tests needs to be repeated every 2-3 years.

 

In recent years, with the advent of lab testing, testing of the HPV virus DNA is possible. This is more effective at picking up pre-cancerous changes compared to the Pap smear test alone. The sample for the HPV DNA test is taken in the same way as the traditional Pap smear test, but only needs to be done every 5 years. It is the recommended screening test for women aged 30 and above.

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