Key Points

  • A Pap test and pelvic exam are important parts of a woman’s routine health care because they can detect cancer or abnormalities that may lead to cancer of the cervix.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the primary risk factor for cervical cancer .
  • Guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women begin Pap test screening at age 21, be screened every 2 years through age 30, and then be screened every 3 years as long as their last three test results have been normal.
  • If the Pap test shows abnormalities, further tests and/or treatment may be necessary.
  • Women who have been vaccinated against HPVs still need to have Pap tests.

Source: National Cancer Institute