Pap Smear Screening

During your physical exam, your physician will take a sample of cervical cells and send them to Eastern Carolina Pathology for testing. You may feel some mild cramping during this exam, but it should not be painful. The pathologist will analyze your sample and provide your physician with a result within 2 weeks. If your pap smear is normal, the pathologist will send you a letter advising you of your results. If your pap smear is abnormal, then the physician and/or clinical staff will notify you of the results and any recommended treatment.

All women need an annual gynecologic exam to evaluate the pelvic organs (uterus, ovaries, vagina) but not all women need pap smear testing every year.

The following recommendations are for low-risk women (women who do NOT have a history of cervical dysplasia). We recommend that you discuss these recommendations with your physician so that you can both decide together on the best screening options for you.

  • If you are younger than 21, then you do not need pap smear screening.

  • If you are 21-29 years old, then you need a pap smear at minimum every 3 years.  

  • If you are 30-64 years old, then you are candidate for pap smear testing plus co-testing for HPV (human papillomavirus). Based on these results, your physician will determine how frequently you need pap smear screening.

  • If you are 65 years old or older, you do not need pap smear screening if you meet certain criteria. We recommend you discuss this with your physician.

  • Women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and have had no prior history of cervical dysplasia, do not need to continue pap smear screening. An annual exam to evaluate the pelvic organs is still necessary, however.

  • If you have had a hysterectomy but still have your cervix, then the age-based recommendations above still apply.

 

Women with high-risk conditions (history of cervical dysplasia, history of uterine cancer, exposure to DES, immune system disorders, etc.) may need more frequent pap smear screening. We recommend that you discuss this with your physician so that a plan can be made and agreed upon.