Pap test unsatisfactory rates – what to know

Jan 12, 2021

The AHS Alberta Cervical Cancer Screening Program (ACCSP) is supporting healthcare providers to improve ‘unsat’ Pap test rates in Alberta. While the provincial target for ‘unsat’ rates are less than 1%, the 2019 rate was 3.6% for Alberta Precision Laboratories catchment and 1.6% for DynaLife catchment. Patients with ‘unsat’ results require another Pap test after three months. Keeping ‘unsat’ rates low helps patients avoid repeat tests.

Some reasons for ‘unsat’ results

Provider factors

  • Empty vials with only preservatives and no patient samples
  • Use of lubricant jelly, which interferes with specimen processing
    • Recommended that only lukewarm water is used 
  • Poor sampling technique

Patient factors

  • Post-menopausal status 
  • Use of personal lubricants, spermicidal jellies, or hormonal creams
    • Remind patients to avoid using these products at least 48 hours before the appointment

Remember, Pap test collection procedures vary slightly depending on which lab kits your practice uses. We encourage you to take a moment to review the applicable collection procedure guide: Alberta Precision LaboratoriesDynaLife

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