Pap Testing

Pap Tests Save Lives.

A Pap test can save your life because it can detect the earliest signs of cervical cancer. When caught early, the chance of curing cervical cancer is very high.

Pap tests also can find infections and abnormal cervical cells that can turn into cancer cells. Treatment of these abnormal cells and infections can prevent most cases of cervical cancer from ever developing.

In general, it is recommended that women have their first pap test at the age of 21. Talk to Dr. Morrison about your personal medical history. This, along with your age and lifestyle, will help determine how often you should have a Pap test.

What is cervical cancer?

Cancer is a disease that happens when body cells don't work right. The cells divide too quickly and grow out of control. These extra cells form a tumor. Cervical cancer is cancer in the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The uterus is the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows during a woman's pregnancy. The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina (birth canal), which leads to the outside of the body.

How is a Pap Test done?

During a pap test, a small number of cells are removed from the cervix through gentle scraping. The cell sample is sent to a lab to test for cell changes that could lead to cancer.

What Happens If My Pap Test Results are Abnormal?

If your pap test comes back as “abnormal,” this doesn’t automatically mean you have cervical cancer. Abnormal cells can be caused by factors such as infection or irritation, and are not always a cause for worry. Abnormal cells may go through many stages of change before cervical cancer appears, and this sometimes takes years. That is why early detection is so important and so useful.

Typically, an abnormal pap test result simply indicates a need for more testing. If your pap test results show abnormal cells, Dr. Morrison may perform another pap test. He may also take a closer look at your cervix through a colposcopy, which magnifies the view of the cervix. Sometimes a small piece of the cervix tissue is removed for additional examination in a lab. Dr. Morrison understands this can be a frightening situation. Talk with him about concerns or questions you have.