Description of the service

Cervical screening (Pap test) is used to detect malignant cervical cell changes and their precursors. Inflammations such as yeast, trichomonas and bacterial flora can also be assessed, but the Pap test cannot detect actual sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is by far the most significant underlying factor in the development of malignant cervical cell changes. The cellular changes caused by HPV develop slowly and vary greatly in degree. According to current information, the development of actual cervical cancer takes several years. In Finland, precursors detected with the Pap test are effectively treated with gynaecological methods to prevent the development of an actual cancer. By contrast, the Pap test is not sensitive in detecting corresponding endometrial cell changes.

You should book an appointment for a Pap test. If you have received an invitation to mass screening for cervical cancer, book an appointment in accordance with the instructions given in the invitation letter and take the invitation letter with you to sample collection.

Read more: Mass screening for cervical cancer

Preparing for gynaecological sample collection

  • General
    • Please note the following before coming in for sample collection:
      • A Pap smear test cannot be performed while you are on your period.
      • You can continue to take any other treatments for this area (e.g. a vaginal suppository) normally, but you should not take them the day before the sample is collected or on the day of sample collection. 
      • There is no need to stop taking any hormone replacement therapy medication.
      • Normal pregnancy up to week 35 does not prevent sampling. If you have any questions about sampling soon after childbirth, please contact your child health clinic.
      • If you have received a mass screening invitation to your home address, please book an appointment within one month of receiving the invitation but no later than during the year of the invitation. Note! It is impossible to postpone your screening test until next year.

Sample collection

  • How is the test taken?
    • A basic prerequisite for reliable diagnostic cytology is a carefully taken and sufficient sample.
    • Pap tests are taken by gynaecologists and laboratory nurses according to the same principles.
    • The sample is taken from three different locations: the vagina, the cervix and the cervical canal.
    • The tools used for sampling are a spatula and a brush for transferring cells from the mucous membrane to the microscope slides for examination.
    • The menstrual cycle, previous cell changes and other relevant background information are recorded in the referral.


  • Who will interpret my results?

    Please note that the doctor treating you is always responsible for interpreting the results.  Consult your doctor if you have any questions regarding the test results.