The Pap test (or Pap smear) can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early. It looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. The Pap test is recommended for all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old.
A Pap test result can be normal, unclear, or abnormal.
- A normal (or “negative”) result means that no cell changes were found on your cervix. This is good news. But you still need to get Pap tests in the future. New cell changes can still form on your cervix
- It is common for test results to come back unclear. Your doctor may use other words to describe this result, like equivocal, inconclusive, or ASC-US. These all mean the same thing—that your cervical cells look like they could be abnormal. It is not clear if it’s related to HPV. It could be related to life changes like pregnancy, menopause, or an infection. The HPV test can help find out if your cell changes are related to HPV. Ask your doctor what to do next.
- An abnormal result means that cell changes were found on your cervix. This usually does not mean that you have cervical cancer. Abnormal changes on your cervix are likely caused by HPV. The changes may be minor (low-grade) or serious (high-grade). Most of the time, minor changes go back to normal on their own. But more serious changes can turn into cancer if they are not removed. The more serious changes are often called “precancer” because they are not yet cancer, but they can turn into cancer over time. In rare cases, an abnormal Pap test can show that you may have cancer. You will need other tests to be sure. The earlier you find cervical cancer, the easier it is to treat.
STD/STI Testing & Treatment
STD’s and STI’s are passed from person to person through any sexual activity. They don’t always cause symptoms, or the symptoms may be mild, so it is possible to contract an infection and even spread it others without knowing that you have been infected. This is why it is important to be tested for STD’s and STI’s if you are sexually active.
At Piedmont Women’s Center, we test for and treat STI’s for both women and men.
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