Q: What is a Pap smear?
A: The Pap test is a screening test for cervical cancer. Like any screening test, a Pap smear does not diagnose cervical cancer. Rather, it identifies women who might be at higher risk for cervical cancer. It is recommended that this smaller group of women undergo further testing to better diagnose the extent of the problem.
Q: Who needs a Pap smear and how often does it need to be performed?
A: Your first Pap test should be done by age 21 or within three years of the onset of intercourse. It should be done annually until age 30 and then if you have had three consecutive negative Pap tests, it may be spaced out to every 2-3 years. Remember, if your doctors recommends a Pap every 2-3 years, you still need to have your annual exam yearly!
Q: What is meant by an abnormal Pap smear?
A Cells on your cervix were found that did not look normal. It does not mean that you have cancer. We will call you and ask you to return for more specific tests that may include a repeat Pap, colposcopy (using a microscope to view the cervix) and biopsies.