This content is also available in: Italiano Español Čeština Magyar Polski

Bookmark (0)

No account yet? Register

Development of the Pap test by Dr George Papanicolaou

The Pap test was developed by Dr George Papanicolaou an American anatomist of Greek descent who was engaged in research into the effect of ovarian hormones on the epithelium of the female genital tract. In 1926 he reported  that tumour cells could be seen in vaginal secretions from women with cervical cancer (Papanicolaou 1928). In 1944 he published  his seminal paper “Diagnosis of uterine cancer by the vaginal smear” (Papanicolaou & Traut 1943). His observations were soon confirmed by others (Ayre 1944, Meigs et al 1945). The first cervical cancer screening clinic was opened in Massachusetts in 1945.

Dr George Papanicolaou (1883-1962) 


The role of the Pap test as a method of detecting preinvasive and early invasive cervical cancer

This diagram shows the trends in incidence of invasive cervical cancer in European countries between 1950 and 1990 and in the last decade (in the 1990s). It shows that increased  incidence in those countries without a national screening programme (eg Estonia, Slovenia) and decreasing incidence in countries with a national screening programme (eg UK, Denmark).


Aims of the Pap test

Other uses of the Pap test