Pap Smear

Pap Smear

Pap Smear gwinnettA Pap smear, or Pap test, is a diagnostic screening test frequently performed as part of an annual well woman examination to detect cervical cancer in women. The procedure involves collecting a small sample of cells from the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus located at the top of the vagina. Not only can analysis of this cell sample reveal the presence of cervical cancer, it can also detect changes in the morphology (size and shape) of the cells that may suggest cancer could potentially develop in the future. As with many forms of cancer, early detection is often a vital first step to halting the progression of the cancer before serious damage is done. In women over the age of thirty, the traditional Pap smear test is combined with a test for human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer in some women.

Pap Smear Testing

Most doctors recommend that Pap testing begin at age twenty-one, and that it be repeated, at a minimum, every three years thereafter for women under the age of sixty-five. However, here at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, we recommend that most patients should be seen annually for Pap testing in order to ensure that any abnormalities are caught as soon as possible. Women over the age of thirty may consider having a Pap test completed only once every five years, if it is combined with testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) while a woman with certain risk factors may require more frequent Pap smears.

These risk factors include:

  • A previous diagnosis of cervical cancer or a Pap smear that showed precancerous cells
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
  • An HIV infection
  • A weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or corticosteroid use


Each patient should talk with their doctor about when Pap smear testing should begin and how often the test should be undergone as individual circumstances can vary significantly. If the results from a Pap smear are abnormal, additional diagnostic testing may be required in order to determine the appropriate course of treatment.


Pap Smear FAQs

Do I need to do anything specific to prepare for a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a relative quick and simple procedure, usually taking less than ten minutes. We recommend that women avoid intercourse, douching, or using any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams or jellies for two days prior to having a Pap smear, as these may wash away or obscure abnormal cells. Further, we usually ask that a woman try not to schedule a Pap smear during her menstrual period, if at all possible.

Will I need to continue undergoing Pap smears for the rest of my life?
Not necessarily. Under certain circumstances your doctor may decide that further Pap testing is no longer needed. Doctors generally agree that women can consider stopping routine Pap testing at the age of 65 if their previous tests for cervical cancer have been negative. Moreover, if you have undergone a total hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus, including the cervix) for a noncancerous condition, you may be able to discontinue routine Pap testing.


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Contact Information

Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett
601 Professional Drive, Suite 330
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046   
Phone: 678.380.1980   
Fax: 678.380.7348

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Monday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Tuesday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Wednesday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Thursday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Friday 8:30AM–12PM
Saturday Closed
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