During a Pap smear, a sampling of cells is taken from the cervix and examined under a microscope. With the Automated Screening System, the smear is put through a computer screening. The computer weeds out smears that have abnormal cells. With the Thin Prep System, the cells are prepared in a solution that distributes them more evenly along the smear. This makes it easier for physicians to find pre-cancerous cells.
Doctors recommend that you have a Pap smear every year, beginning at age 18 or when you become sexually active. Women who have annual Pap smears have a better chance of finding out if they have pre-cancerous cells in their cervixes than women who don't have regular exams. In fact, the likelihood that abnormal cells will be missed three years in a row is less than one percent.
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