Pap Tests

A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a routine screening procedure looking for early changes in cells that can lead to cervical cancer.

The Pap test (or Pap smear) is a screening for cervical cancer. The test looks for cancers and precancers in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina). Precancers are cell changes that might become cancer if left untreated. A Pap test is suggested as part of your annual pelvic exam/gynecologic checkup. Pap tests are done in a doctor's office or clinic by your healthcare provider. Cells scraped from the opening of the cervix are then examined under a microscope.

Pap Test FAQs

    A woman should have her first Pap test about three years after she begins having vaginal intercourse but no later than age 21. Nervous about your first Pap test? This video can help you learn what to expect.

    Cervical screening should be done every year with conventional Pap tests or every two years using a liquid-based Pap test. The difference between conventional Pap tests and liquid-based Pap tests is the way in which the specimen is saved once it is collected from the cervix. In a conventional test, the specimen is "smeared" onto a glass slide; in liquid-based tests, the specimen is put into a special liquid preservative

    At or after the age of 30, women who have had three normal test results in a row may be screened every two to three years. However, a doctor may suggest getting the test more often if a woman has certain risk factors, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or a weakened immune system.

    Women age 70+ who have had three or more normal Pap tests and no abnormal test results in the past 10 years may choose to stop cervical cancer screenings. However, screening continues to be recommended for women who have not previously been screened, women for whom information about previous screening is unavailable and women for whom past screening is unlikely.

    Screening after a total hysterectomy (with removal of the cervix) is not necessary unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or a precancerous condition. However, women who have undergone a hysterectomy without the removal of the cervix should continue cervical cancer screening until at least age 70. 

    The Cary Dougherty Cancer Detection Laboratory is a full-service laboratory and cancer detection lab that supports all hospital services but specializes in obstetrics/gynecology and neonatology. It is one of the most respected in the nation, having processed more than one million Pap tests since its formation in 1958. An advanced state-of-the-art system for examining Pap smears, offered at Woman’s Hospital, enhances an already proven procedure in the fight against cervical cancer.

    Choose Woman’s Lab

    Did you know you have the right to choose where your pap smears and all lab work are processed?

    • Full-service, on-site lab in the Physician Office Building, Ste. 100
    • 225-924-8290

    Speak up and tell your doctor that you choose Woman’s Lab! Most decisions about your medical care are based on these lab results. Data from lab results, when identified early, play a significant role in treating cancer, HPV, STDs, diabetes, heart disease and more. When the stakes are that high, you want your lab work in the best and most experienced hands possible for the job.

    Woman’s Lab is a preferred provider of Blue Cross Blue Shield, and many other insurance carriers such as AetnaCIGNAHumanaUnited HealthcareVantage and Wellcare.