The Papanicolaou test (also Pap test, Pap smear (AE), cervical smear (BE), cervical screening (BE), or smear test (BE)) is a test that doctors do for women. The test tells whether the woman has cancer cells on her cervix, which is an organ inside the vagina.
A doctor collects cells from the cervix using a speculum, brush, and spatula. The doctor puts the cells in a liquid or on a glass slide. Then the liquid or slide goes to a laboratory for testing. The technician in the laboratory looks at the cells under a microscope to see if they are cancer or could become cancer. Woman do pap tests because, if she finds out she has cervical cancer early, she can start treatment, and she is more likely to live.