Are Pap tests still needed after removal of the uterus (hysterectomy)?

Answer From Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.

It depends.

A Pap test, also called a Pap smear, is a routine screening test for early diagnosis of cervical cancer.

If you had a partial hysterectomy — when the uterus is removed but the lower end of the uterus (cervix) remains — your health care provider will likely recommend continued Pap tests.

Similarly, if you had a partial hysterectomy or a total hysterectomy — when both the uterus and cervix are removed — for a cancerous or precancerous condition, regular Pap tests are still recommended as an early detection tool to monitor for a new cancer or precancerous change.

You can stop having Pap tests, however, if you had a total hysterectomy for a noncancerous condition.

Your age matters, too.

If you're unsure whether you still need Pap tests, discuss with your doctor what's best for you.

Oct. 13, 2015