Abnormal Pap Test (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
You may have a Pap test as part of your routine gynecologic exam. A Pap test is used to identify abnormal cell changes on your cervix and to screen for cervical cancer. Pap test screening is the most effective way to detect early abnormal cervical cell changes.
Women older than age 30 may have a screening test for HPV infection at the same time they have their Pap test.1
Pap test screening schedule
The recommended Pap test schedule is based on your age and on things that increase your risk. For most women, it is best to have a Pap test every 1 to 3 years. Talk to your doctor about when to have your first Pap test and how often to have this test.
Abnormal Pap test result
If your Pap test result is abnormal, the lab will use the Bethesda system (TBS) to describe how severe the problem is. Your doctor will use these results to decide how to treat the problem.
Following an abnormal Pap test result, more tests may be needed to determine whether an infection is present or to determine the severity of cervical cell changes. These additional tests include:
For more information, see:
For information on tests to diagnose a specific infection, see the specific topic:
What to think about
Testing methods, such as liquid-based collection, are being used in many areas of the United States. Liquid-based collection methods allow testing for HPV at the same time as a Pap test, but these methods may not be available everywhere and may be more costly.
The terms used to report Pap test results vary depending on which classification system is used. The Bethesda system (TBS) is used by most labs in North America. Other classification systems are used around the world.
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