Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Could an OB/GYN follow up mean I have cervical cancer?"


I am 26 and my OB/GYN told me to come back to see her after getting the results of my PAP smear. Does this mean I could have cancer?


The incidence of cervical cancer has been dramatically reduced with the use of routine screening with the Pap smear. The Pap smear involves the sampling of cells from the cervix and analysis of these cells under the microscope. Certain changes can be found in these cells which may include cervical cancer, but more often may include some abnormalities that are considered potentially pre-cancerous and should be investigated further.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Obgyns near you

This further investigation may include repeat Pap smear in 6 months rather than at the usual annual interval, or may include colposcopy, in which the cervix is stained with a chemical to help display any abnormal areas, and a sample of these areas can be biopsied. To help determine the significance of abnormal cells obtained from a Pap, sometimes the sample is also analyzed for the presence of high-risk HPV (human papilloma virus) which has been linked to the development of cervical cancer. Your Ob/Gyn doctor will be able to discuss the results of your Pap smear with you at this follow-up appointment. You should use this time as an opportunity to ask questions about the meaning of your Pap smear results and clarify what the follow-up plans will involve.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.