Before getting to know the meaning of the term cytology, let’s proceed to discover its etymological origin. In this case, we can indicate that it is a word that emanates from Greek. Specifically, it is the result of the sum of two clearly differentiated parts:
-The noun “kytos”, which can be translated as “cell”.
-The word “lodge”, which is synonymous with “study”.
The Pap smear is the specialty of biology dedicated to the analysis of cells (the basic unit of a living being with separate reproductive capacity). The concept is also used as a synonym for cytodiagnosis: the diagnostic process that is carried out based on the study of cells and their result.
The Cytologists, therefore, research and study everything about the structure, biochemistry and physiology of cells, whether they are in normal conditions or who are in a pathological state. When cytology is oriented to cells in a normal state, it is part of cell biology; if it is centered on cells that go through some pathology, it is part of the so-called cytopathology.
In addition to the specialty and the diagnostic process, cytology is called the material that is extracted for its study, the methods used for said extraction and the document that presents the results of the analysis in question.
According to DigoPaul, the cytology exfoliative involves collecting cells obtained from a manual scraping (mechanical exfoliation) or a spontaneous detachment of the body (spontaneous exfoliation). The interventional cytology, meanwhile, involves an intervention in the body, a puncture by needle aspiration.
One of the most frequent cytological testing is the Pap test, cervical cytology or pap smear. The doctor, using a scraping, collects cells from the vagina, cervix, and endocervix. These cells are analyzed to detect any abnormalities that can help diagnose uterine cancer.
Specifically, vaginal cytology is carried out by introducing the doctor a kind of brush or spatula to be able to carry out that gentle scraping of the cervix. Thanks to this test, not only cervical-uterine cancer can be discovered, but also infections or even injuries.
In each country, and even in each medical institution, the recommendations regarding this intervention may be different. In general, vaginal cytology is indicated after three years of the first sexual intercourse, in women who have already exceeded 21 years of age and, although this is not the same in all countries, it is advisable to repeat it at least every three years.
If the most recent results are not entirely satisfactory or if the patient has certain factors that make her especially prone to developing tumors, vaginal cytology is recommended more frequently. On the other hand, when there are periods of five years or more between one control and another, some clinics consider it necessary to carry out two with a distance of one year, and then return to the frequency of one every three years.
Of course, it is recommended that the cytology be annual in women who have these characteristics:
-In their previous cytologies they gave unsatisfactory results.
-They have a very active sexual life.
-They have a history of having had to suffer from a sexually transmitted disease.
-They have vaginal warts.
Similarly, there are certain points to consider in knowing when not to do a Pap smear. For example, it is recommended not to carry out this procedure in people who have not yet reached 21 years of age, regardless of having had sexual intercourse. The reasons for this particular requirement are basically two: on the one hand, cervical cancer is not very common in such young women; It is very normal that at that age the cytology notices certain alterations that later disappear spontaneously.
Women who have not had sex should not undergo this test because usually neck cancer uterus is almost always associated with an infection that is acquired only through intercourse. The virus responsible for such an infection is the papilloma, and it cannot enter the body by other means.
Advanced age is another determining factor in limiting the performance of Pap smears: in general, specialists agree that women over 65 do not need it, as long as they have had one every three years in the last decade; however, this must be assessed in each individual case, especially if they still lead an active sex life.
When you have to go to an appointment with the gynecologist and it is planned that he will carry out what is a cytology, it is necessary for the woman to comply with a series of rules:
-You should not use spermicides, creams or even eggs several days before to go to the consultation.
-You must cancel the appointment if you are menstruating.
-You should avoid having sexual intercourse in the 48 hours prior to the cytology.
-You should not carry out an internal vaginal wash before going to the appointment.