• Abnormal Pap Test

    A Pap test, also called a Pap smear, is a test done during a woman’s pelvic exam to screen for cervical cancer.

    Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

    Causes & Risk Factors

    An abnormal Pap test means the cells collected show abnormal changes. It does not necessarily mean a woman has cancer. There are many causes for abnormal Pap tests, including infections. 

    Symptoms & Types

    If results are abnormal, a doctor may recommend:

    • A repeat Pap test
    • A colposcopy – a procedure that uses a high-powered microscope (colposcope) to view the tiny cells on the cervix. A small tissue sample, known as a biopsy, may be removed for closer examination.  

    Diagnosis & Tests

    During the procedure, the doctor gently collects some cells from the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) using a tiny brush. The cells collected are examined under a microscope for changes that may lead to cervical cancer. In some cases they may also be checked for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

    Living & Managing

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends young women have their first Pap test at 21 years of age.

    If a woman was sexually active before age 18, or has special risk factors such as HIV or immune problems, a doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent Pap tests.

    Regular Pap tests can help prevent most types of cervical cancer by finding and treating precancerous cells early. 

    Diagnosis and Treatment Available at Texas Children’s:

    Reviewers/Authors

    Other Contributors

    Jennifer Kurkowski, WHNP

    Date Reviewed

    2012-07-13
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