Unsatisfactory result

Sometimes the report will indicate that the sample was unsatisfactory. This may happen because:
  • the cells may be obscured by blood or inflammation
  • the test may not have been properly prepared
  • there may not be enough cells on the sample to give an accurate assessment
  • the slide may have been broken.

Not all of these factors are under the control of the doctor or nurse collecting the sample, so even very experienced health care professionals can take a sample that the laboratory reports as unsatisfactory.

If any of these problems occur, you will be asked to have another Pap test in six to 12 weeks. This allows time for the cells of the cervix to renew.

No endocervical cells present

The report may indicate that there were no endocervical cells in the sample. (Endocervical cells come from the lining inside the cervix where the changes that precede cancer are most likely to develop.)

If endocervical cells are not seen on your Pap test, and you have been having regular tests, you do not need another one before the usual two-year interval. However, if you have not been having regular Pap tests you may be asked to have a repeat Pap test earlier.

Cancer Council Helpline