Pap Smear Facts

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Have a pap smear every 2 years

  • A Pap smear can prevent the most common form of cervical cancer in up to 90% of cases.
  • Pap smears look for changes in the cells of the cervix that may develop into cancer in the future. By having a Pap smear every two years any changes can be found early and treated before they develop into cancer in the future.
  • The most common form of cervical cancer takes up to 10 years to develop.
  • Pap smears are for women with no signs or symptoms.
  • Most Pap smear results are normal.
  • An abnormal Pap smear result means that some of the cells of the cervix are different in some way from the normal cells. Most abnormal cells are due to minor infections or conditions, which clear up naturally or can be easily treated.

The biggest risk factor for cervical cancer is not having a Pap smear every two years.

Who needs a pap smear?

  • All women between the ages of 18 and 70 who have ever been sexually active should have a Pap smear every two years. This includes women who were sexually active in the past, but aren't now. Lesbians should also have regular Pap smears.
  • Some women who have had a hysterectomy may still need to have a Pap smear every two years and should ask their health practitioner for advice.
  • Most cases of cervical cancer occur in women older than 40 years of age. After menopause women still need to have a Pap smear every two years.

Where can I have a pap smear?

  • Any GP
  • Family Planning NT
  • Aboriginal Medical Service
  • Remote Community Health Centres