A Pap Screening, also commonly referred to as a Pap test or Pap smear, is a routine test for cervical cancer, and sometimes for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is often conducted as a part of a Well Woman visit.
Cervical cancer screenings are performed in order to determine if there are changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cancer.
During a Pap test, cells are collected from the cervix and sent to be laboratory tested. The sample collection is then examined to determine if abnormal cells are present. If an HPV screening is also performed, the sample is tested for the presence of the most common high-risk types of HPV.
When normal cells are found to be replaced by a layer of abnormal cells during laboratory testing, this is a noncancerous condition referred to as dysplasia. Your health care provider may recommend additional testing or treatment for cervical cancer screening results that are returned abnormal. They will also recommend when normal screenings can resume.
There are also certain risk factors that may result in your doctor recommending more frequent Pap tests, including immunosuppression, HIV or HPV infection, a past cervical cancer diagnosis, or if you or your mother ever used the drug diethylstilbestrol.
A proactive approach to pelvic health is important for women of all ages, so it is important to follow your doctor’s advice on the frequency of your Pap screenings. It is also recommended to schedule an annual Well Woman visit even if you aren’t due for a Pap screening. At Women’s Institute for Specialized Health, PLLC, we do everything possible to make your Pap screening experience comfortable and worry-free.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.