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 8/26/2017
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.