Clinics That Offer Free or Low-Cost Pap Smears

Pap smears are an important screening tool in cervical cancer diagnosis

When cancer cells grow in the lining of the cervix, it's called cervical cancer. The most common cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). Screening tests, such as Pap smears and HPV testing, can help identify abnormal cells on the cervix and diagnose HPV. If caught early, cervical cancer is treatable and curable.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of health insurance or financial challenges, many women avoid having regular ​Pap smears.​ However, there are government and nonprofit programs that can assist people with getting routine cervical cancer screening.

This article will review how to get Pap smears at low to no cost.

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Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines

Cervical cancer screening involves undergoing a Pap smear and HPV testing. During a Pap test, cells from the cervix are collected by your healthcare provider. This sample of cells can also be tested for HPV. In 2020, the American Cancer Society updated its screening guidelines for people at average risk of developing cervical cancer. These include:

  • At age 25, women should have an initial primary HPV test (an approved test for high-risk strains), an HPV test with Pap smear (cotesting), or a Pap smear alone.
  • For those who have normal results, an HPV test or cotesting should be repeated every five years until the age of 65. (If only a Pap smear was performed, it should be repeated every three years.)
  • Testing may stop at age 65 in people who have had no significant abnormalities within the last 25 years and have had negative screening tests for the previous ten years.

Additional testing and procedures may be needed for those with an abnormal screening test or who have risk factors such as HIV or are taking immunosuppressive drugs.

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is a federally funded program that provides cervical cancer screening to eligible women.

You might be eligible for a free or low-cost Pap smear if:

  • You have no insurance, or your insurance doesn't fully cover screening exams
  • You are between the ages of 21 to 64
  • Your yearly income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level

In addition, people who fall outside of those age ranges may also qualify based on risk factors.

Low-Cost and Free Pap Smear Clinics

Local county health departments and women's clinics offer free, and low-cost Pap smears. For the uninsured, the cost of the test is often based on income level.

Your local Planned Parenthood may also offer low-cost Pap smears. Planned Parenthood is an organization that offers sexual and reproductive health care to individuals, regardless of income.

You can find your local Planned Parenthood clinic by visiting their website or calling (800) 230-PLAN.

Finding a Test Center

If you need low-cost or free cervical cancer screening, check out the below resources or visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to find a participating healthcare facility near you.

Alabama

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(334) 206-3905

Alaska

Breast and Cervical Health Check
(800) 410-6266 (in state)
(907) 269-3491 (outside of state)

American Samoa

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
011 (684) 633-2135

Arizona

Well Woman Healthcheck Program
(602) 542-1001

Arkansas

BreastCare Program
(877) 670-2273

California

Cancer Detection Programs: Every Woman Counts
(916) 449-5300

Colorado

Colorado Women's Cancer Control Initiative
(866) 692-2600
(303) 692-2600 (in state)

Connecticut

Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
(860) 509-7804

Delaware

Screening for Life
(888) 459-2943

District of Columbia

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(202) 442-5900
(888) 833-9474

Georgia

Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
(404) 657-6611

Guam

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(850) 245-4455
(617) 735-7174

Hawaii

Hawaii Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
(808) 692-7460

Idaho

Women's Health Check
(800) 926-2588

Illinois

Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
(888) 522-1282

Indiana

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(317) 234-1356
(800) 433-0746

Iowa

Care for Yourself
(800) 369-2229

Kansas

Early Detection Works
(877) 277-1368

Kentucky

Kentucky Women's Cancer Screening Program
(502) 564-7996 Ext. 3821

Louisiana

Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program
(888) 599-1073

Maine

Breast and Cervical Health Program
(800) 350-5180 (in state)

Maryland

Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program
(800) 477-9774

Massachusetts

Women’s Health Network
(877) 414-4447

Michigan

Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program
(800) 922-MAMM

Minnesota

SAGE Screening Program
(888) 643-2584

Mississippi

Mississippi Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(800) 721-7222

Missouri

Show Me Healthy Women Program
(573) 522-2845

Montana

Breast and Cervical Health Program
(888) 803-9343

Nebraska

Every Woman Matters Program
(402) 471-0929 (in Lincoln)
(800) 532-2227 (outside Lincoln)

Nevada

Women's Health Connection
(888) 463-8942 (in state)
(775) 684-5936 (outside of state)

New Hampshire

Breast and Cervical Cancer Program

New Jersey

Cancer Education and Early Detection Program
(800) 328-3838

New Mexico

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(505) 222-8603
(877) 852-2585

New York

Cancer Services Program
(800) 4-CANCER
(800) ACS-2345

North Carolina

Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program
(800) 4-CANCER (in state)
(919) 715-0111 (outside of state)

North Dakota

Women's Way Program
(800) 449-6636 (in state)
(701) 328-2333 (outside of state)

Ohio

Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Project
(800) 4-CANCER

Oklahoma

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(888) 669-5934

Oregon

Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
(971) 673-0984

Pennsylvania

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(800) 4-CANCER

Puerto Rico

Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Program
(787) 274-3300

Republic of Palau

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
011 (680) 488-4612

Rhode Island

Women's Cancer Screening Program
(401) 222-1161

South Carolina

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(800) 227-2345

South Dakota

All Women Count!
(800) 738-2301(in state)

Tennessee

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(615) 532-8494

Texas

Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program
(512) 458-7796

Utah

Utah Cancer Control Program
(801) 538-6712

Vermont

Ladies First
(800) 508-2222 1 (800) 319-3141 (TDD)

Virginia

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(800) ACS-2345 (in state)
(804) 786-5916 (outside of state)

Washington

Washington Breast and Cervical Health Program
(888) 438-2247

West Virginia

Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program
(800) 4-CANCER

Wisconsin

Well Woman Program

(608) 266-8311

Wyoming

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
(800) 264-1296

Getting Your Results

It can take up to three weeks to receive your Pap smear results. The following are three possible findings of your test:

  • Negative/Normal: The cells from your cervix look normal.
  • Unclear/Uniquivocol: The pathologist (a doctor who studies body tissue) could not determine if your cervical cells were normal or abnormal. Your healthcare provider may do more testing or have you come back in 6 months for another Pap smear.
  • Positive/Abnormal: A positive result means the cells from your cervix look abnormal. This does not mean you have cancer, but additional tests may be needed to gather more information. For example, colposcopy and cervical biopsy may be helpful.

Your HPV test will determine if you have the virus or not. If it's positive for HPV, the results will explain which strain of HPV you have. Although HPV is not curable, many strains will naturally disappear within two years. Since HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, it's important to practice safe sex while you are positive for the virus.

You will likely receive a letter if your test results are normal. If your test results are abnormal, your healthcare provider or nurse will call you with the next steps. However, be sure to contact your healthcare provider if you don't receive your results or have any questions.

Summary

Cervical cancer is treatable and curable if caught early. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. Pap smears and HPV testing help find abnormal cells on the cervix and diagnose HPV. Unfortunately, many people do not have the resources to undergo routine cervical cancer screening. However, several programs help connect you to low-cost or free Pap smears and HPV testing.

A Word From Verywell

Screening for cervical cancer is not the most appealing examination. However, research shows that proper screening identifies about 97% of cervical cancer at a precancerous stage. The best way to prevent HPV is to be vaccinated against it. Anyone between 9 and 26 is eligible to receive the vaccine. You should still undergo routine cervical cancer screening if you've been vaccinated. Ask your healthcare provider if you are eligible to receive the HPV vaccine.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much is a Pap smear without insurance?

    Depending on what state you live in a Pap smear with pelvic exam can cost between $121-$247.

  • Can you do a Pap smear on your own?

    A Pap smear must be done by a healthcare provider. However, there are at-home HPV tests.

  • What should you not do before a Pap smear?

    In addition to menstruating, the following should be avoided within two days of a Pap smear:

    • Douching
    • Use of tampons
    • Having sex
    • Using birth control foam, cream, or jelly
    • Using medicine or cream in your vagina


Cervical Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control. Cervical Cancer.

  2. Shami S, Coombs J. Cervical cancer screening guidelines: an update. JAAPA. 2021;34(9):21-24. doi:10.1097/01.JAA.0000769656.60157.95

  3. Fontham ETH, Wolf AMD, Church TR, et al. Cervical cancer screening for individuals at average risk: 2020 guideline update from the American Cancer Society. CA Cancer J Clin. 2020;70(5):321-346. doi:10.3322/caac.21628

  4. Office on Women's Health. Pap and HPV Tests.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cervical cancer is preventable.

  6. Centers for Disease Control. Cervical Cancer: What Should I Know About Screening?

Additional Reading

By Serenity Mirabito RN, OCN
Serenity Mirabito, MSN, RN, OCN, advocates for well-being, even in the midst of illness. She believes in arming her readers with the most current and trustworthy information leading to fully informed decision making.

Originally written by Lisa Fayed