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Obstetrics & Gynecology: Woman to woman health services

Abnormal Pap Smears

The Pap smear test can detect precancerous cells. That means the cells can be removed before they have a chance to develop into cervical cancer, which means the test can be lifesaving.

Women age 30 and older can consider Pap testing every five years if the procedure is combined with testing for HPV. Or they might consider HPV testing instead of the Pap test.

Abnormal results don't mean that you have cancer. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong. Test results can be inconclusive. This result is sometimes called ASC-US, which means atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. The cells didn't look quite like normal cells, but they couldn’t really be classified as abnormal. The abnormal cell changes can be mildly abnormal or seriously abnormal. The degree of abnormal cells on the Pap smear is what helps us make recommendations for your follow-up.

In some cases, a poor sample can lead to inconclusive results. That might happen if you recently had intercourse or used menstrual products.

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