What is the difference between a papanicolaou test and a pelvic exam?

Great question. The papanicolaou test is a specific test that requires the visualization of the cervix. Cells from the cervix are sampled and screened for cancer potential. While a pelvic exam may include the pap test, the exam itself does not require a pap test. A pelvic includes looking at the genitals inside the vagina and out, as well as feeling the internal organs including uterus and ovaries.