If you get both a Pap and an HPV test, this is called cotesting. The guidelines advise that routine Pap and HPV cotesting be limited to women age 30 and older. However, HPV testing can be used in women of any age after an unclear Pap test finding and to help your health care provider determine if further evaluation is needed.
Cotesting results usually come back from the lab in about 1-3 weeks. You may receive a letter or a phone call from your health care provider. If you don't hear from your provider, call and ask for your test results. Ask about any follow-up visits or tests you may need.
Both Test Results Are Normal
If both your Pap test and your HPV test results are normal, your health care provider will probably tell you that you can wait 5 years before your next cotest (Pap and HPV test).
One Test Result Is Normal and One Test Result Is Abnormal
- Pap test result is normal and HPV test result is abnormal. Your health care provider will probably recommend that you come back for repeat cotesting in 12 months or have a different HPV test that checks for the two high-risk HPV types that cause most cervical cancers.
- Pap test result is abnormal and HPV test result is normal
- For abnormal Pap test result of ASC-US: Most women are advised to get another Pap and HPV test in 3-5 years.
- For all other abnormal Pap test results: Your health care provider will probably recommend that you come in for a test called a colposcopy, which is used to take a closer look at your cervix and perform a biopsy. Based on the colposcopy findings, your health care provider will decide whether further testing or treatment is needed.
- Learn more about Pap Test Results and Follow-Up Testing.
Both Tests Results Are Abnormal
When both the Pap test and the HPV test results are abnormal, you will need further testing and possibly treatment. The first step is usually a colposcopy. A colposcopy is an exam that allows your health care provider to take a closer look at your cervix and to remove a sample of cervical cells for a pathologist to examine (biopsy). The sample is then checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Based on the results, your health care provider will decide whether further testing or treatment is needed. Learn more about Pap Test Results and Follow-Up Testing.
About HPV Testing Alone for Cervical Cancer Screening
Recent research findings indicate that the HPV test alone is highly effective for cervical cancer screening. The FDA recently approved this use. In the future, cervical screenings may only require an HPV test instead of a cotest. Talk with your health care provider to learn more.
Learn More About the Pap Test and the HPV Test
Pap and HPV Testing: This fact sheet describes cervical cancer screening and provides information about the Pap test and HPV test. It also includes information about how often to be screened based on your age.