Is a Pap smear and cervical cancer screening the same thing?

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[.highlighted] Q: Dear Teal, [.highlighted] I have only ever heard of pap smears. After visiting your website, I see they are called cervical cancer screenings? Has this always been the case and are they the same thing?

A: Yes, the Pap smear and the HPV test are two different cervical cancer screening tests.

For decades, depending on a woman's age and past screening results, Pap smears were recommended every 1-3 years. Then, with the evidence that HPV causes more than 90 percent of cervical cancers, the HPV test was introduced alongside the Pap smear. This evidence, paired with the new HPV test changed the screening frequency to every five years.

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Liz Swenson, MD
Medical Director

Liz Swenson is a board-certified OB/GYN who has been providing care to women for more than 20 years. She has learned that women are genuinely interested in their own health and want to understand the science behind their medical conditions. Originally from Iowa, she completed her medical training in Northern California where she still lives with her husband and two daughters. She has worked in a busy multispecialty practice in Palo Alto and has taught OBGYN residents as an Adjunct Clinical Faculty Member of Stanford University. Now, with a focus on helping all women have choices and access to the gynecological care they need, she is excited to use her clinical experience to help improve the lives and longevity of all Teal patients.