Pap Smear (Pap Test): Resource Overview

The incidence of cervical cancer in the United States has decreased by more than 50% in the past 30 years because of widespread screening with cervical cytology, including the Pap test (Pap smear). New technologies, including HPV testing, continue to evolve, as do guidelines for managing abnormal results. Ob-gyns, physicians whose primary responsibility is women’s health, play a leading role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cervical dysplasia before it becomes cervical cancer.

Here are the key publications and resources for ob-gyns, other women’s health care providers, and patients from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other sources.

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Resources for Ob-Gyns and Women’s Health Care Providers
Resources for Women and Patients

Resources for Ob-Gyns and Women’s Health Care Providers

Practice Bulletin: Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention (members only)

“Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention,” issued by ACOG in October 2016, provides a review of the best available evidence for cervical cancer screening. The guideline covers cervical cytology screening techniques (Pap test or Pap smear) and test reporting, and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and testing.

Committee Opinion: Well-Woman Visit

“Well-Woman Visit,” issued by ACOG in August 2012 (reaffirmed 2016), emphasizes the importance of an annual health visit, including cervical cancer screening. It states that speculum examinations for cervical cancer screening should begin at age 21 as part of this annual health assessment, irrespective of sexual activity of the patient.

Practice Bulletin: Management of Abnormal Cervical Cancer Screening Test Results and Cervical Cancer Precursors (members only)

“Management of Abnormal Cervical Cancer Screening Test Results and Cervical Cancer Precursors,” issued by ACOG in December 2013 (reaffirmed 2016), addresses the management of abnormal screenings and recommended follow-up, including routine screening after treatment or resolution of abnormalities, HPV testing, and new data on the risk of high-grade precursor lesions and cancer. 

Resources for Women and Patients

Cervical Cancer Screening Infographic

ACOG’s  Cervical Cancer Screening Infographic, issued in February 2016, explains when women should be screened for cervical cancer and whether they should receive a Pap test or co-testing with the HPV test.

Patient Fact Sheet: “New Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening”

“New Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening,” issued by ACOG in September 2013, provides women with the latest recommendations for Pap and HPV testing.

Patient FAQ: Cervical Cancer Screening

“Cervical Cancer Screening,” issued by ACOG in February 2016, explains that cervical cancer screening, used to find changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cancer, includes the Pap test (Pap smear) and, for some women, HPV testing.



American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188 | Mailing Address: PO Box 70620, Washington, DC 20024-9998