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Your health care provider who collected the cervix screening (Pap test) sample will send the sample to the laboratory to be examined under a microscope by specially trained professionals. Your results will be sent to your health care provider. The current turnaround time for results can be found here. You will then be contacted by your health care provider if abnormal cells are found.

If your results are normal: you should be tested again in three years unless your health care provider tells you otherwise.

If your results are abnormal: don’t be alarmed. Abnormal cervix screening results are common and do not mean you have cancer.

Abnormal results

An abnormal screening result does not mean you have cancer.

An abnormal cervix screening result means that cells have been found on your cervix that do not look normal. Abnormal results are common and do not mean you have cancer or pre-cancerous cells.

It is rare for a patient with an abnormal cervix screening result to have cervical cancer. However, when abnormal cells are found, further testing may be needed.

Often these abnormal cells return to normal by themselves. But, in some cases, they may not return to normal on their own, and instead, become pre-cancerous cells that need to be removed. 

You need to discuss your results and the need for further tests or treatment with your health care provider. It is important that you attend all follow-up appointments.

Infection, inflammation, or hormone changes can cause abnormal cervical cancer screening test results. However, most abnormal results are caused by a common virus called human papillomavirus (HPV).


Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection causes almost all cervical cancers. HPV can take more than ten years to progress to pre-cancerous cells or cervical cancer.

HPV is a virus that usually clears up on its own without causing any problems.

Two groups of HPV can infect the cervix – low-risk and high-risk. Low-risk types are not associated with cervical cancer but may cause genital warts and abnormal screening results. Long-term infection with a high-risk type of HPV may lead to cervical cancer or pre-cancerous cells.

HPV is very common and easily spread through any kind of sexual contact. This includes intimate touching, oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

Most people will get HPV at some point in their lives – often without knowing it. Usually, the body’s immune system removes the virus within two years. But sometimes HPV does not clear on its own, and over time, it can cause the cells of the cervix to become abnormal.

SOURCE: Results ( )
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