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A pap smear is a screening test for cervical pre-cancers and cervical cancer. A pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix for microscopic evaluation. Detecting abnormal cells on the cervix early with a pap smear can help prevent the development of cervical cancer.
The pap smear may show abnormal cells of different levels of severity, ranging from low-grade to high-grade abnormalities, including:
In women age 30 or older, the Pap smear is often combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV)—a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer.
Based on your age and the level of abnormality on the pap smear, a colposcopy procedure is often recommended to further evaluate the degree of abnormality.
Occasionally a pap smear may detect bacteria or yeast on the cervix, which can be a normal finding. We do not recommend treatment for these findings unless you are having symptoms of a vaginal infection.