SATURN STILLS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SATURN STILLS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cervical smear. Close-up of a cervical smear sam- ple being smeared across a microscope slide by a vaginal spatula. Cervical smear tests are routine procedures carried out to detect cancer at the earliest possible stage. The sample of cells is obtained by scraping the cervix (neck of the womb) with the tip of the spatula. The cells are then transferred to a slide and sent to a laboratory for microscope analysis. If they appear abnormal the patient may require treatment to destroy part of the cervix before cancer develops and spreads. Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide. The chance of being cured is much higher if the disease is detected early.
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