The following terms have been used throughout this website.
Adenocarinoma a type of cancer that originates in the lining of certain organs where there is glandular tissue — or tissue that produces some type of secretion. For cervical cancer, adenocarcinoma arises in the endocervical canal.
AGUS - Atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance - There is an increased risk of precancer or cancerous cells.
ASC-US (also ASCUS) - Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance - Some cells appear different than normal, but cannot be classified as precancerous.
Chlamydia a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia occurs often without symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it may lead to infertility. It can also be passed to infants during childbirth, causing complications such as pneumonia, eye infections, and in some cases blindness.
Bethesda System a standard system that most laboratories use to describe pap test results.
Cervix the lower, narrow portion of the uterus where it joins with the top end of the vagina.
CDC the abbreviation used for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Colposcopy a diagnostic procedure used to examine an illuminated, magnified view of the tissues of the cervix, vagina, and vulva.
Conization a surgical procedure that checks for abnormal cervical cell changes.
Cytotechnologist a laboratory professional who studies cells and cellular abnormalities.
Douche a device or process by which a stream of water is used to cleanse the vagina.
FDA the abbreviation used for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
GARDASIL® an FDA-approved vaccine made by Merck that protects against 4 strains of HPV (human papillomavirus) — 2 of which cause most cervical cancers.
Genital herpes a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Signs include blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. While there is no cure for genital herpes, outbreaks can be managed through medication and other means.
Genital warts a highly contagious, sexually transmitted infection caused by some sub-types of human papillomavirus (HPV). There are multiple treatments for genital warts, depending on their size and location.
Glandular cells a type of cell found in the cervix and the lining of the uterus.
Gonorrhea a curable sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhea often occurs without symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or other serious infections.
HPV (human papillomavirus) a very common sexually transmitted disease that has about 100 different types or strains. Some HPV strains can cause genital warts; and others, if persistent, may lead to cervical cancer. While there is no cure for HPV, the vast majority of HPV infections clear on their own.
HPV vaccine (also known as GARDASIL®) a vaccine that protects against 4 strains of HPV — 2 of which are high-risk strains that cause roughly 70% of cervical cancers.
HSIL - High grade squamous intraepithelial lesion - Moderate to severe precancerous changes may have been found in some cells.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) a retrovirus that attacks the body's immune system. HIV is the virus that causes AIDs. While there is no cure for HIV, it can be treated with medications aimed at slowing the replication of the virus in the body.
Hysterectomy the surgical removal of a woman's uterus, and sometimes the cervix.
LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) a procedure that uses electrical current passed through a thin loop-shaped wire to remove precancerous cells on the surface of the cervix.
Liquid-based pap test a more accurate pap test than the conventional pap smear. Liquid-based pap tests preserve cells in a liquid solution and minimize obscuring material, such as blood and mucus, so that trained laboratory professionals can more easily identify abnormal cells. Today, about 90% of pap tests in the U.S. use the liquid-based method of storing samples.
LSIL - Low grade squamous intraepithelial lesions - Mild precancerous changes may have been found in some cells.
Lubricant a gel-like substance often used to reduce vaginal friction during sex or a speculum exam. Lubricant may impact the quality of a pap test, and should not be used for 1-2 days prior to a gynecological exam.
Pap smear the procedure involved in collecting cells from the cervix and then "smearing" them onto a glass slide. The conventional pap smear is used in only 10% of medical practices today.
Papanicolaou the full name from which "pap" in "pap test" is derived; it is named after George Papanicolaou , who developed the pap test in the 1930s.
Pathologist a physician who diagnoses diseases by examining tissue, blood, and body fluid samples using laboratory techniques.
Pelvic exam a physical exam of a woman’s pelvic organs by a healthcare professional.
Speculum a medical tool used during a pap test that allows the doctor access to the cervix.
Squamous cells similar to cells found on the outer layer of skin, squamous cells are the flat cells found on the outer surface of the cervix.
Squamous cell carcinoma a type of cervical cancer that originates from the outer portion of the cervix. Squamous cell carcinoma is a slow growing cancer, taking three to five years to fully develop. While it is the most common form of cervical cancer, it is also highly detectable with routine pap tests.
Syphilis a curable sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium, Treponema pallidum spirochete. Syphilis usually appears first with a large sore, known as a chancre, and then progresses with other symptoms. If left untreated, syphilis can lead to death, and in pregnant women it can be passed to the fetus.
ThinPrep Pap Test a liquid-based pap test that is much more accurate than the traditional pap smear. It is the most widely used pap test in the U.S., and is the only liquid-based pap test that is FDA-approved for HPV, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea testing all from the same sample.
ThinPrep Imaging System a dual-review computer system that screens for cancerous and precancerous cervical cells. Dual Review means that your ThinPrep Pap Test gets screened twice — first by the ThinPrep Imager, and then by a laboratory professional trained in looking for abnormal cervical cells.
Vagina a muscular canal that extends from the cervix to the vulva.