How Long Do Pap Smear Results Take (And Why)?

How Long Do Pap Smear Results Take (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 – 3 Weeks

A Pap smear, also known as a Pap test, refers to a medical procedure to test and detect cervical cancer in women. Pap smear does not hurt. It might be a little uncomfortable as it is a new sensation for the body. Detecting cervical cancer using a Pap smear in its early stages provides one with a greater chance to cure it and lead a normal as well as a healthy life.

In this test, cells from a woman’s cervix are collected for the detection of cervical cancer. Cervix refers to the narrow end which is at the lower part of a woman’s uterus. A Pap smear can effectively detect abnormal cervical cells before they metamorphose into cancerous cells and hence, Pap tests prove useful as cervical cancer screening tests.

How Long Do Pap Smear Results Take

How Long Do Pap Smear Results Take?

Duration of Pap smear test10 – 20 minutes
Duration for Pap smear results to come from the lab1 – 3 weeks

Women belonging to the age group 21 – 65 years should never skip taking the Pap smear test as doing so might cause the cervical precancerous changes within the body to go unnoticed which might prove harmful in the long run. These probable cervical cancerous cells might reach an advanced stage and turn into cancer if not detected early.

Pap Smear is the most effective screening tool for cervical cancer and thus, one can completely rely on it without any doubt. It helps in catching cancer in its earliest stages which makes cervical cancer highly treatable with favorable results. Due to the Pap smear’s early screening of cancerous cells, a 92% chance of survival has been observed among women.

Women who belong to the age group of 21 to 29 should consider taking a Pap smear every 3 years. However, women of age 30 and above should have a Pap smear yearly or within a gap of 3 – 5 years. If one has a history of cervical cancer or has had abnormal results with the Pap smear, it is advisable to test yearly. Doctors recommend women to have a Pap smear irrespective of their sexual history.

Once one is done with their Pap test, the results come back from the lab in about 1 to 3 weeks. Thus, one need not wait for months to know about its results. As soon as the results are received, it is essential to critically evaluate them to make sure whether one needs to make more visits to the clinic or not for any further treatment or tests.

Why Do Pap Smear Results Take This Long?

A Pap smear or a Pap test lasts only for a few minutes as the doctor just needs to collect some cervical cells using a special tool specifically designed for this purpose and send them to the lab for further testing to ensure whether there is a potential risk of cancer in this cells or not.

However, the results of Pap smear do not come immediately in about 1 – 2 days. It takes at least a few days or sometimes a few weeks from the test for the results to reach the patient. The results might either come as ‘negative’ which denotes a normal condition or ‘positive’ which denotes an abnormal condition.

A negative result is a good indication as this means that cells collected during Pap smear didn’t show any precancerous or cancerous signs and the person is currently at any risk of cervical cancer. Thus, with a negative result, one might not need to visit the clinic soon until one is scheduled for their next Pap smear.

However, a positive result is a sign of concern. It must be noted that an abnormal Pap smear result does not always mean that the person has cervical cancer. It just means that the doctor has found some abnormality or unusual cells in one’s cervix. A positive result might get triggered due to cells changes caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Thus, if a woman is 30 years older, she can consider having just a Pap smear, an HPV test, or both tests together.

However, a Pap smear can sometimes also be unclear or inconclusive. Such a type of result is called ASC-US which stands for atypical squamous cell. This means that the cells collected during the Pap smear did not look like normal cells, neither they could be easily classified as abnormal and thus, the result is declared as unclear. Thus, in such cases, the doctor might schedule another repeat test to get conclusive results.


A simple procedure like a Pap smear can help doctors detect early signs of cervical signs to help women fight it before it becomes too late. Thus, this ability of the test to detect cancerous cells makes it a potential lifesaver.

One receives their Pap smear result in about 1 – 3 weeks. The result of the Pap test can be negative, unclear, or positive. Depending on one’s result, the doctor might schedule some additional tests or follow-up visits if required.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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