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How are precancerous cervical conditions diagnosed?

A Pap test is the standard way to check for any cervical cell changes. A Pap test is usually done as part of a gynecologic exam. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines recommend that women have a Pap test every 3 years, beginning at age 21.

Because the HPV test can detect high-risk types of HPV in cervical cells, the FDA approved this test as a useful addition to the Pap test to help health care providers decide which women with ASC-US need further testing, such as colposcopy and biopsy of any abnormal areas. (Colposcopy is a procedure in which a lighted magnifying instrument called a colposcope is used to examine the vagina and cervix. Biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for diagnosis.) In addition, the HPV test can be a helpful addition to the Pap test for general screening of women age 30 and over.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.