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Understanding Cervical Changes: A Health Guide for Women

  • Posted: 01/21/2010

Introduction

A Pap Test Showed Cell Changes in Your Cervix

You're probably reading this booklet because your health care provider told you that your recent Pap test (sometimes called a Pap smear) showed cell changes in your cervix. Although it is quite common to feel uneasy about your Pap test results, it may comfort you to know that each year more than 3 million women receive similar news.

“I didn't understand my results at first—and a part of me didn't want to understand. But I knew this was important…and in the end, everything turned out fine.”
MARLENE, AGE 45

Many Cell Changes Are Not Cancer

The good news is that, almost always, women with cell changes do not have cancer of the cervix (also called cervical cancer). But it is important that you protect your health by getting the follow-up tests and care that your health care provider suggests. Having cell changes does not mean that you will get cancer of the cervix. In fact, when cell changes are found and treated early, almost all women can avoid getting cervical cancer.

Getting Your Questions Answered

So what is the next step? What do your results mean? Does this mean you need treatment and, if so, what kind? This booklet helps answer these questions and discusses:

  • Types of changes in your cervix
  • Common tests and treatments
  • How to find the support and resources you need

You will probably have other questions, or you might be concerned about the choices you may need to make. These reactions are normal. But understanding your Pap test results—and what to expect when the results are not normal—can help you make informed decisions and plan your next steps.

To order free copies of this booklet, call the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) or click here to get free copies sent to you.