SATURN STILLS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SATURN STILLS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cervical smear. Close-up of fixative being applied to a cervical smear sample on a microscope slide. A wooden vaginal spatula is being used to coat the slide with the thick, transparent fixative. Cervi- cal smear tests are carried out to check for early signs of cervical cancer, the most common form of cancer in women. A sample of cells is scraped from the patient's cervix (neck of the womb) with the tip of a vaginal spatula and smeared onto a slide. The slide is then coated with fixative. This kills the cells and preserves their original appearance. A microscope is used to check for abnormal cells, which may indicate cancer. Early detection makes the chance of cure far higher if cancer is found.
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