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Pap Smear FAQs


What is a Pap test?


A Pap test is checking for abnormal cellular changes to the cervix, the lower part of the uterus which opens into the vagina.  Cell changes, if not found or treated can lead to cervical cancer.  Having regular PAP tests is key to the prevention of cervical cancer.


Why do women require Pap tests?


Cervical cancer can almost always be prevented and, therefore, having a Pap test can save your life!  A Pap test can detect precancerous cellular changes and, if these changes are caught early, the possibility of successful treatment of cervical cancer is very high. 

Who requires a Pap test?

Women aged 21 to 69 should get Pap tests as part of their routine health care.  Even if you are not currently sexually active, you should still have a Pap test starting at the age of 25. 

You should still get regular Pap tests if:

  • You’ve had the HPV vaccine

  • You’ve had only 1 sexual partner

  • You’ve been with your partner for a while

  • You’ve been through menopause

  • You’re no longer having sex

  • You’re in a same-sex relationship

Only women who do not have a cervix, usually as a result of a hysterectomy, AND who also do not have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap results, no longer require Pap tests. Women ages 69 and older, who have had three consecutive normal Pap tests and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years, no longer require Pap tests.


How often are Pap tests required?


All women should start having Pap tests at the age of 25 or three years after first sexual contact.  A Pap test should be conducted every year for the first three years and then continue every 3 years if your results are normal.

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