Definition of Pap Test Procedure

A screening test for disorders of the cervix, notably cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (cin) and cervical cancer.

A Pap test, also called a Papanicolaou test, is the laboratory examination of cells swabbed from the cervix during a pelvic examination. The test derives its name from the doctor who developed it.

Women over age 18 should have Pap tests every one to three years, depending on their health status.

A woman who has had a total hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus including the cervix) for reasons other than cancer does not need Pap tests unless she has a history of human papillomavirus (hpv). When the hysterectomy was for cancer or was a simple hysterectomy (removal only of the uterus), the woman needs Pap tests according to routine recommendations.

Woman’s AgeHealth StatusPap Test Interval
under 21sexually activeevery year
21 to 30all women regardless of health statusevery year
31 to 64three consecutive normal Pap tests
no sexually transmitted diseases (stds)
every two to three years
31 to 64multiple sex partners
Human papillomavirus (hpv) infection
abnormal Pap test within three years
has had treatment for cancer of the cervix or endometrium (uterus)
every year
65 to 70normal Pap tests for the previous 10 consecutive years
total hysterectomy
no longer necessary
any agemother took diethylstilbestrol (DES) when she was pregnant
HIV positive
organ transplant recipient
long-term corticosteroid therapy
impaired immune function
every year


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