What Pap 3 means in cervical cancer screening

Pap 3: A Pap test result

Did you received a Pap 3 result during cervical cancer screening? The news that altered cells have been found in your smear test might cause a huge shock. Fortunately, no cancer cells were detected, but it is still important to learn the meaning behind the Pap 3 findings.

Grafische Darstellung einer gynäkologischen Untersuchung, Symbolbild für Pap 3 Befund

Table of contents

Why is a Pap smear taken?

Women between the ages of 20 and 34 can have an annual cervical cancer screening. In addition to a tactile examination of the external and internal genital organs, a Pap smear can also be performed.

For women aged 35 and over, the Pap smear is done in combination with the HPV test. This examination is also called a co-test and is only necessary every three years. A tactile examination of the external and internal gentical organs can be done annually.

Graphic representation of cervical cancer screening in Germany

What does my Pap 3 test result mean?

A Pap 3 test result refers to the group of unclear and doubtful findings. This sounds confusing, but what is important to know step is that a Pap 3 finding means there are altered cells, but no cancer cells have been found. In addition, Pap 3 only describes one group of findings. Other terms, such as Pap 3D1 or Pap 3D2, describe the findings in further detail.

Nevertheless, the term cervical cancer will be mentioned during the consultation, as the Pap test is an integral part of cervical cancer screening. The background is as follows: cell changes are relatively normal and can heal on their own. However, in a few cases, these changes can persist intensify and become precursors of cervical cancer. These are also known as dysplasias. In general cervical cancer is best cured if it is treated before it even develops.

This means that although altered cells have been found in a Pap 3 result, no cancer cells have yet been found. In addition, the altered cells can also heal. The cause of the cell changes must now be investigated.

Pap test results at a glance

The result of the Pap test is divided into different levels which describe the degree of abnormality. In a medical context, Pap results are usually written with Roman numerals. Hence, the table below also uses Roman numerals.

Findings Meanings
Pap 0 The cell smear is insufficient to make a diagnosis.
Pap I All cells are normal.
Pap II-a The smear is normal, but there have been abnormalities in the past.
Pap II There are minor cell changes, but cancer is not suspected.
Pap IIID 1 Altered cells have been found, but the risk of cancer development is low.
Pap IIID 2 Altered cells have been found and there is a risk that these will develop into cancer.
Pap III Altered cells have been found, but these cannot be clearly assessed. However, cancer cells have not yet been found.
Pap IV Severely altered cells have been found. There may already be severe tissue changes that could develop into cancer.
Pap V Malignant cells have been found. Cancer could be present.

Pap 3: What happens next?

Ärztin hört Patientin interessiert zu, bespricht Pap 3 Befund

There are various actions which can be taken after a Pap 3 result. In most cases, the smear test is repeated after a certain period of time or the gynecologist recommends a vaginal endoscopy, i.e. a colposcopy, after three months. During a colposcopy, the cervix is examined under a type of magnifying glass using a special procedure.

Which examination is the right one depends, among other things, on the exact classification of the Pap 3 findings. Together with your gynecologist, you can clarify what happens next.

The GynTect® test

Quick verification
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A Pap 3 result after cervical cancer screening is no reason to panic. Although altered cells were found under the microscope, no cancer cells were detected. Further examinations are still needed to clarify the reasons behind the finding.

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On request, you will receive a free smear test kit, which is accompanied by a treatment contract. Only when we have received the swab sample together with the signed examination request in the laboratory do you undertake to pay the costs of 150 euros.

Do you have any further questions? Please use the contact options provided.

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  1. Titelbild: amab / Shutterstock.com
  2. Pap 3 – wie geht es weiter?: Stock-Asso / Shutterstock.com