Abnormal Pap Test
British Columbia Specific Information
A Pap test, also known as a Papanicolaou test or pap smear, is a test used to determine if there are abnormal cells in the cervix. If abnormal cells are found, steps can be taken to try to prevent them from developing into cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a disease in which the cells of the cervix become abnormal and start to grow uncontrollably, forming tumors. In Canada, a Pap test is the most effective and recommended screening test for cervical cancer. In B.C., it is recommended women aged 25-69 be screened every 3 years. To learn more about the cervical cancer screening program in B.C., including guidelines on who should be tested, visit BC Cancer Agency - Cervix Screening.
Approximately 70 per cent of all cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18. The HPV vaccines, Cervarix® (HPV2) and Gardasil® (HPV4), protect against infection from certain types of human papillomaviruses (HPV). Health Canada approves the HPV vaccine Gardasil® (HPV4) for use in women and men. Health Canada also approves the HPV vaccine Cervarix® (HPV2) for use in women; however it is not currently approved for use in men.
Some groups are eligible to receive the vaccine for free. Those not eligible to receive the vaccine for free may purchase it from a pharmacy or doctor’s office. For information about the vaccine, including who is eligible to receive it for free, see HealthLinkBC File #101b Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine.
For more information about HPV see HealthLinkBC File #101a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection and Genital Warts. For information on other HPV vaccine programs in B.C., visit ImmunizeBC - HPV (Human Papillomavirus).
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology & Kevin C. Kiley MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology