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Well Woman HealthCheck Program

Cervical Cancer Screening

Congratulations to Cancer Control Programs Office Chief Virginia Warren for her CDC recognition!

woman getting advice

Uninsured women ages 21-65 can receive pelvic exams and Pap tests through the WWHP. Depending on results, they may also be tested for HPV. If necessary, diagnostic testing will be covered following the screening.

The WWHP follows the specific recommendations and guidelines for breast cancer screening established by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Check out a summary of the USPSTF's current guidelines.

What to Expect:

A cervical cancer screening is carried out through an exam called a Pap test (or Pap smear). This test helps detect abnormal cells on the cervix that might become cancerous if they are not treated appropriately.

How is it done?
You may be asked to remove all of your clothing or just your clothing from the waist down and will be provided with a paper or cloth gown. You will lie down on your back on an exam table with your knees bent and your heels resting in stirrups. Your doctor will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum opens the walls of the vagina and holds them apart so that your doctor can easily see your cervix. You may feel some pressure as the speculum is inserted. Then your doctor will take samples of your cervical cells using a soft brush or a flat scraping device called a spatula. You might feel slight momentary discomfort while the sample is being taken.

How long does it take?
The Pap test itself will likely take about 5 minutes, but you may be in the clinic for up to an hour from the time you arrive to the time you leave.

What happens after the test?
After your Pap test, you can go about your day without restrictions. The samples your doctor collected are transferred to a laboratory where they are examined for abnormalities in the cells that indicate cancer or a precancerous condition. Ask your doctor about when you can expect the results of your Pap smear. In some cases, your doctor will contact you only if something of concern is found or if it's determined that you need further testing.

Tips for Preparing for Your Pap Test

Two days prior to your Pap test, you should not:

  • Douche (rinse the vagina with water or another fluid)
  • Use a tampon.
  • Have sex.
  • Use a birth control foam, cream, or jelly.
  • Put medicine or cream in your vagina.

Make sure you schedule your Pap test for a time when you are NOT having your period.