What Does My Pap Test Result Mean?

The Pap test

Checks your cervix for abnormal cells that could turn into cervical cancer. Your Pap test will come back as either “normal,” “unclear,” or “abnormal.”

A normal (or “negative”) result

Means that no cell changes were found on your cervix. This is good news. But you still need to get Pap tests in the future. New cell changes can still form on your cervix.



It is common for test results to come back unclear. Your doctor may use other words to describe this result, like equivocal, inconclusive, or ASC-US. These all mean the same thing—that your cervical cells look like they could be abnormal. It is not clear if it’s related to HPV. It could be related to life changes like pregnancy, menopause or an infection. The HPV test can help find out if your cell changes are related to HPV.


An abnormal result means that cell changes were found on your cervix. This usually does not mean that you have cervical cancer.

Abnormal changes on your cervix are likely caused by HPV. The changes may be minor (low-grade) or serious (high-grade). Most of the time, minor changes go back to normal on their own. But more serious changes can turn into cancer if they are not removed. The more serious changes are often called “precancer” because they are not yet cancer, but they can turn into cancer over time. It is important to make sure these changes do not get worse.

In rare cases, an abnormal Pap test can show that you may have cancer. You will need other tests to be sure. The earlier you find cervical cancer, the easier it is to treat.


Cervical Cancer Screening Tests

What Does My Pap Test Result Mean?

What Does My HPV Test Result Mean?

Cervical cancer screening with the HPV test and the Pap test in women ages 30 and older
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

GeoSalud, january 23, 2014

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