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Cervical Cancer Screening - Topic Overview

Pap test is normal, but HPV is abnormal

  • The Pap test shows no abnormal changes to your cells.
  • The HPV test is positive, which means you have HPV.
  • Your body's immune system could get rid of HPV on its own.
  • You will likely have another Pap and HPV test in 1 year.
  • If you have one of the most high-risk types of HPV, your doctor may recommend a colposcopy. In this test, your doctor uses a lighted magnifying tool (colposcope) to get a closer look at the cervix.

Pap test is abnormal, but HPV test is normal

  • You have abnormal cell changes on your cervix.
  • You don't have HPV.
  • Your doctor may suggest a colposcopy to learn more about your abnormal cells.

Pap test and HPV are both abnormal

  • You have abnormal cell changes on your cervix.
  • You have HPV.
  • Your doctor will suggest a colposcopy.
  • Abnormal Pap and HPV test results don't mean that you have cervical cancer. But, depending on the type of cell changes, you will likely have treatment to remove the cells.

Pap test result isn't clear

Sometimes the results of the Pap aren't clear. There might not be enough cells to test. Or the cells may show very small changes that aren't certain. If this happens:

  • Your doctor will tell you when to have another Pap test—if you have a normal HPV test or if you didn't have an HPV test.
  • You may have a colposcopy if you are 30 or older and have a positive (abnormal) HPV test.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 01, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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