Abnormal Pap Test: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your 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 want to repeat the Pap test or have you take other tests to see if you have cell changes.

It is very important that you have regular Pap 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 call line 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 call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter P925 in the search box to learn more about "Abnormal Pap Test: Care Instructions".