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Abnormal Pap

Abnormal Pap Smear – What does that mean?

A Pap smear is a simple test for women. It looks for changes that could lead to cancer. The test examines cells from the cervix (the opening of the uterus). An abnormal Pap smear result may be due to a slight irritation or infection of the cervix, cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous changes of the cervix) or cancer of the cervix.

Dysplasia and early cervical cancer seldom cause symptoms. The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding. A Pap smear can detect early pre-cancerous changes before symptoms occur. Death from cervical cancer is usually preventable. Regular Pap smears must be performed by a health care provider during pelvic exams. This is a quick and usually painless procedure. The American Cancer Society & the MDHHS recommend all women 21 and older should obtain a pap test every 3 years if their previous pap smear results have been normal.

Follow-up on an abnormal Pap smear may include:

  • Repeating the test in 4 to 6 months.
  • Medication.
  • Further tests, such as a colposcopy (looking at the cervix with a microscope).
  • Biopsy
  • Treatment, such as laser or surgical removal of the abnormal cells.

Smoking doubles the risk for cancer of the cervix. Sexually transmitted disease are linked to the development of cervical cancer. Eat a healthy diet to promote healing of the cervix.

Screening is available for women age 40 and older, with no insurance who meet certain income requirements through MDHHS’ BCCCNP via Ingham County.

For women under the age of 40, or who have insurance please contact our Family Planning Program.

Michigan.gov Cervical Fact Sheet