A Pap smear is a routine screening test for cervical cancer. It involves collecting cells from the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.
The Pap smear can also detect changes in the cervical cells that could lead to cancer. These changes are often caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection.
Most Pap smear results are typical. However, if abnormal cells are found, follow-up testing may be needed. Treatment is usually not necessary for abnormal cells that are found early.