Abnormal Pap Smears

The Papanicolaou or pap smear is the screening test for cervical cancer in the United States.  A sample is usually collected from the cervix or vagina with a spatula or brush and placed in a liquid based medium for transport.  It is then sent to the laboratory for microscopic analysis.  Traditionally, it takes between 7-10 days for a pap smear’s results to be available to the physician.  There are many different results for the pap smear test that are interpreted based on the patient's age and history.  A recommendation is then provided to the patient for the appropriate follow up.  Recommendations may include observation, more frequent pap testing, or colposcopy (see in-office procedures).