The results of your Pap smear should be available within a few days. If they are negative, that means that no abnormalities have been detected. Positive results don’t necessarily mean you have cancer.
Slight abnormalities could indicate minor cell changes that could go away on their own, or an inflammation. If this happens, your gynecologist will probably recommend a repeat Pap smear in a few months.
Each woman is different, and your doctor will discuss with you how often you should have this test. As a general guideline, a Pap smear is typically done every two years starting at age 21. By age 30, if you have had three consecutive normal Pap tests and you don’t have a weakened immune system or health condition, the frequency may be decreased to every three years. You may also be able to decrease the Pap test to every five years if it is done along with a test for Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Talk to your doctor to find out what is right for you.
By the age of 65, if you have always had normal results, you may be able to discontinue having this test. By this age, the risk of cervical cancer is very low. This is an individual decision that should be made between you and your gynecologist.
The Pap test has been more successful than any other test in preventing cervical cancer, but it is a test that relies on the examination of results by the human eye. For this reason, abnormalities could be missed, so you should have the test as often as recommended.
Pap smears are very important because regular Pap tests can detect cervical cancer early or prevent it altogether. When detected, this is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. Have a Pap smear done as often as recommended by your doctor and help your doctor to keep you healthy.