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How often should I have a Pap test?

How often should I have a Pap test?

According to the National Institutes of Health, cervical cancer was the the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States; however, in the last 40 years, the number of cases and deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly largely from women getting regular Pap tests.

A Pap test (Papanicolaou test or Pap smear) is a test that is done to screen for cervical cancer

Performed by your healthcare provider, the test involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that's at the top of your vagina. The cells are then sent to a lab to see if abnormal cells are present.

It usually takes two to seven years for serious changes in cervical cells to become cancerous, but even then there may be no noticeable symptoms. Screening may detect these changes before they become cancer.

Who should have a Pap test, and how often

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women ages 21-65 should have a Pap test every three years, even if they have no symptoms. If there are symptoms or a woman has had abnormal cells before, the Pap test might be needed more often.

Who many not need to have a Pap test

A woman over 65 may not need a Pap test at all if she is screened regularly or has no history of cervical changes. A woman who has had a hysterectomy due to cancer, or significant changes before removal of the cervix should continue Pap tests for 20 years after surgery. A woman who had a hysterectomy without a history of abnormal cells does not need a routine Pap test.

Always check with your healthcare provider for their specific recommendation.

CCH is open, safe and ready to see you

With almost 80 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in nearly 20 specialties, CCH is committed to your wellbeing right here at home. If you have been putting off a visit to your doctor for a regular checkup, contact them; they can help weigh your personal healthcare risk and avoid further delayed diagnoses.

Visit www.cchwyo.org/findadoc to find your provider or clinic.