Abnormal Pap Smear

A Pap test (sometimes called a Pap smear) is a way to examine cells collected from the cervix, or the "mouth" of the womb (located at the top of the vagina), for the presence of:

  • infection
  • inflammation
  • abnormal cells
  • cancer


Importance of a Pap Test

A Pap test, along with a pelvic exam, is an important part of a woman's routine health care because it may detect abnormalities that can lead to invasive cancer. Most invasive cancers of the cervix can be detected early if women have Pap tests and pelvic examinations regularly. As with many types of cancer, cancer of the cervix is more likely to be successfully treated if it is detected early.

The Pap test is useful for detecting not only cancerous cells, but also other cervical and vaginal abnormalities including dysplasia (precancerous cells) and inflammation. Inflammation may be caused by:

  • yeast infections
  • trichomoniasis infections
  • bacteria
  • viruses
  • medications or other chemicals
  • hormones
  • pregnancy
  • miscarriage (or abortion)

Our gynecologists provide expert medical advice and management when Pap tests uncover a health condition. To choose a North Shore-LIJ Women's Health gynecologist or schedule your Pap test and physical, visit Our Physicians or Make an Appointment