What is the reliability of the Pap test?
It ranges between 50-75%, in regards to detecting precancerous lesions.
How can the reliability of the Pap test be improved?
If we want to reduce the risk of missing a precancerous lesion:
- The Pap test must be repeated at regular intervals. This significantly reduces the probability of missing cancer, because carcinogenesis in the cervix is usually a drawn out process (carcinogenesis is the process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells). Even if a lesion is missed in one Pap test, it is considered improbable that it will be missed in three successive tests.
- A second way is to combine the Pap test with an HPV test. The HPV test, which is described in the next chapter, detects the viral load from oncogenic types of HPV. This method is more costly than the Pap test alone but offers a higher than