What is a Pap test?

A Pap test, or Pap smear, is one of the most important screenings for gynecologic cancers. Pap tests can save lives by detecting cancers and precancers in a woman’s cervix. Precancers are cell changes that could potentially become cancer if they are not properly treated. These tests are covered by most health insurance plans and they should be scheduled every three years between the ages of 21 and 65. Women with weakened immune systems may need to schedule tests more frequently.

If you have had a hysterectomy or your cervix has been removed and you do not have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap results, you do not need to schedule a Pap smear. If you are 65 or older and your last three tests were normal, with no abnormal test results within the past 10 years, you will no longer need to schedule Pap smears.

What can I expect during my appointment?

During the exam, a speculum is used to open the vagina so that the cervix is visible. A stick or brush will then be used to swipe a few cells from the inside and surface of the cervix. The cells are sent away to a lab for testing. Pap tests may be mildly uncomfortable but you should not experience any pain. The results usually take 1-3 weeks to come in.* Most of the time, the results are normal, but should you get abnormal results, it does not always mean that you have cancer. Regardless of the results, your doctor will discuss the next steps with you.

Schedule in Spokane, Washington

If you have any questions or concerns about gynecologic care or Pap tests and you live in Spokane or the surrounding areas, give us a call at (509) 319-2430. To schedule an appointment, use our online scheduling form.

*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.