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Cervical Cancer Screening with the HPV Test and the Pap Test in Women Ages 30 and Older

What Does My Pap Test Result Mean?

Your Pap test will come back as “normal,” “unclear,” or “abnormal.”

Normal

A normal (or “negative”) result means that no cell changes were found on your cervix. This is good news. But you still need to get Pap tests in the future. New cell changes can still form on your cervix.

Unclear

It is common for test results to come back unclear. Your doctor may use other words to describe this result, like equivocal,A Pap test result that is unclear. Your doctor may also use the term “ASC-US” to describe this result. inconclusive,A Pap test result that is unclear. Your doctor may also use the term “ASC-US” to describe this result. or ASC-US.This word stands for “Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance.” Doctors may use this word to describe a Pap test result that is unclear. Your doctor may also use words like “equivocal” or “inconclusive” to describe this result. These all mean the same thing—that your cervical cells look like they could be abnormal. It is not clear if it’s related to HPV. It could be related to life changes like pregnancy, menopause, or an infection. The HPV test can help find out if your cell changes are related to HPV.

Abnormal

An abnormalA finding that is not normal. An abnormal result means that your cervix has cell changes. Your doctor may use medical terms to describe these results. You may hear that your result came back as “LSIL” or “HSIL.” LSIL stands for “Low-grade Squamous Intra-epithelial Lesions”—which means minor cell changes on the cervix. HSIL stands for “High-grade Squamous Intra-epithelial Lesions”—which means more serious cell changes. Abnormal results do not mean you have cervical cancer. But you need to follow up as told by your doctor. result means that cell changes were found on your cervix. This usually does not mean that you have cervical cancer.

Abnormal changes on your cervix are likely caused by HPV. The changes may be minor (low-grade) or serious (high-grade). Most of the time, minor changes go back to normal on their own. But more serious changes can turn into cancer if they are not removed. The more serious changes are often called “precancerCell changes that are not normal, but have not yet turned into cancer.”, because they are not yet cancer, but they can turn into cancer over time.

In rare cases, an abnormal Pap test can show that you may have cancer. You will need other tests to be sure. The earlier you find cervical cancer, the easier it is to treat.

 
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