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Pap Smear Facts

  • A Pap smear is a simple, quick, and essentially painless cancer screening test.
  • Cells collected from a woman's cervix are evaluated for abnormalities, specifically for pre-cancerous and cancerous changes.
  • Pap smears are recommended for all women starting at age 21. If results are normal, screening is recommended every 3 years.
  • Most women over age 30 who have had reliable Pap screening with persistently normal results can be screened less often than yearly.
  • Pap smears should not be performed in women who have had a total hysterectomy for benign conditions and had prior normal Pap smears.
  • The Pap smear is read (analyzed) according to a uniform standardized system known as the Bethesda System.
  • A recording of the woman's menstruation status and whether and when she had abnormal Pap smears previously, is essential to the reader of the current Pap smear.
  • Screening guidelines recommend that most women over 65-70 years old who have had regular Pap screening with negative results can stop having Pap tests, because abnormal Pap smears are very unusual in this setting.
  • Up to 80% of women diagnosed with invasive cancer of the cervix have not had a Pap smear in the past 5 years.
  • Cancer of the cervix is a preventable disease.



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North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7331/ Fax: (701) 231-6132
Campus address: Wallman Wellness Center 102
Physical/delivery address: 18th Street and Centennial Blvd., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 5150/ PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 1:09:51 PM