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What do ASCUS and negative HPV mean on Pap results?

A:

Quick Answer

On a Pap smear, ASCUS stands for atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The term indicates an inconclusive, or unclear, Pap test result. A negative HPV means the patient tested negative for the human papillomavirus.

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Full Answer

The Pap and HPV tests work together to screen for cervical cancer, explains the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. Pap tests are used to examine cervical cells to see if they are normal or abnormal as abnormal cells can turn into cancer over time. High-risk HPV is the cause of cervical cancer. Additional testing and follow-up are required if the Pap test is unclear or abnormal, or if the HPV test is positive.

Testing and follow-up guidelines for women with an ASCUS Pap test result vary by age, notes the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. For women 21 to 24, the Pap is repeated every 12 months. If a Pap test is normal two consecutive times, routine screenings can resume. For women 25 to 29, if the HPV test is positive, a colposcopy is performed. If the HPV test is negative, both Pap and HPV tests can be done again in three years. If they are positive within three years, a colposcopy is performed. Women 30 and older who have a positive HPV test also have a colposcopy.

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