During a Pap smear, cells from the outside and the canal of the cervix are retrieved by gently scraping the outside of the cervix. The Pap smear is performed to detect cancerous or precancerous conditions of the cervix.
Review Date 1/1/2020
Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.