The “Pap smear” is now the “Pap test”

The Pap smear has been around for about 50 years. Developed by Dr. George Papanicolaou, it represents one of the most successful medical screening tests in history, leading to early detection and treatment of cervical cancer and precancerous lesions. Recent advances have made possible a further improvement on this test.

The conventional Pap smear produces just that--a “smear” of cells and other material from the cervix and/or vagina, on a glass slide. This slide is stained to allow a cytotechnologist or pathologist to examine the cells and look for developing problems. Too often, the evaluation is limited by a thick smear or by blood, inflammation, or other things that “get in the way.” Detecting serious disease in these smears is no easy task.

Now, we have a better way--the ThinPrep® Pap test from Hologic. Rather than smearing cells onto a glass slide--as was done in the conventional Pap smear--your doctor takes a sample and places it into a bottle of preservative fluid. At our lab, the bottle is placed into a machine that puts cells onto the slide in a (near) single layer, with little to no overlapping of cells. In addition, the blood cells are destroyed so that they do not cloud the picture. Check out the pictures below and see for yourself--which slide is clearer? Which specimen would you want your doctor to send to us?

Our ThinPrep® system also uses computer image analysis for primary screening of slides, to assure better detection of abnormalities, with fewer “false positive” results.

The ThinPrep® Pap test sample can be used for further testing, to detect high-risk HPV--the cause of virtually all cervical cancer--as well as Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhea (common sexually transmitted diseases). Patients generally don’t need to return to the doctor’s office to provide another sample.  VPMG performs this testing in house for rapid turnaround.

ThinPrep®: It’s another good reason to choose VPMG.