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Abnormal Pap Test: Care Instructions


A Pap test (also called a Pap smear) is used to look for early changes that may become cancer of the cervix. Your Pap test was abnormal. That may mean that some cells in your cervix have changed. The cell changes are most often caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

An abnormal Pap test does not mean that the abnormal cells will lead to cancer. Changes in cervical cells may go away on their own or may progress slowly. Your doctor may have you follow a schedule of regular cervical cancer screening tests. Or your doctor may have you take other tests to find out more about your cell changes.

It is very important that you have regular cervical cancer screening tests after you've had an abnormal Pap test.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not smoke. Smoking may increase your risk for cervical cell changes. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Be sure to get follow-up Pap tests or other follow-up tests as recommended by your doctor.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.