How often should I see my gynecologist for a Pap smear?

A Pap smear test can detect the cells that line the cervix and may be abnormal. An abnormal Pap smear can be the sign of many different conditions, many benign, or a sign of cervical cancer.

It is important for women to have Pap smears regularly because they can catch cervical cancer early, increasing the rate of survival. Another test used for screening for cervical cancer is an HPV test. This can be done at the same time as a Pap smear. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years.

Women ages 30 to 65 should have a Pap test and HPV test (co-testing) every five years (preferred). It is acceptable to have a Pap test alone every three years.

For more information, contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, at (225) 927-2273 or cbritton@ cancerservices.org, or visit the Education Center, 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Cervical Screening

acog.org

MedlinePlus: Cervical Cancer Screening

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.