When caught early, cervical cancer is highly treatable. That's why it's so important to schedule regular screening exams.
A Pap smear collects cervical cells to determine if they are precancerous or cancerous. Since HPV is a common risk factor in cervical cancer, your doctor may also remove cells for an HPV test. A positive result means you have a high-risk strain of HPV and the doctor will want to do follow up exams to make sure the infection goes away and that abnormal cells don't develop.
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You can also schedule a cervical cancer screening exam by calling one of our Riverside Women's Health practices directly. Click here for locations.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends this screening schedule:
Age 21-29 — Pap every three years
Age 30 to 65 — One of three options:
- Pap test and an HPV test (co-testing) every five years
- HPV test alone every five years
- Pap alone every three years
Age 65 — No screening needed if women have no history of cervical changes
What to expect
A doctor uses a device called a speculum to widen the opening of the vagina so that the cervix can be examined. A plastic spatula and small brush are used to collect cells from the cervix. After the cells are taken, they are placed into a solution and sent to a lab for testing.
Results are usually mailed to you within a week or two. The doctor's office may call you. If you are a Riverside MyChart user, your results will be part of your electronic health record that you can view in MyChart.