A Pap test is a test of cells of the cervix. The cervix is the opening between the vagina and the uterus. The Pap test looks for cells that are not normal and can cause cervical cancer.
Most women ages 21 to 69 need regular Pap tests. But teenage girls and older women usually don’t need them. Here’s why:
Pap tests usually don’t help low-risk women.
Many women have a very low risk for cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer is rare in women younger than 21, even if they are sexually active. Abnormal cells in younger women usually return to normal without treatment.
- Cervical cancer is rare in women over 69 who have had regular Pap tests with normal results.
- Pap tests are not useful for women who have had their cervix removed during a hysterectomy, unless the hysterectomy was done because there were cancer or pre- cancer cells in the cervix.