Getting a Pap smear can cause anxiety, especially if you find out that the results are abnormal. While your first thought may be about cancer, there are other reasons why your Pap smear results may come back as abnormal.
In this blog, the board-certified gynecology team at The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group shares what a Pap test is, what it’s for, and the things that can influence your test.
A Pap smear is a routine test that is designed to detect early changes in your cervical cells that can indicate a precancerous or cancerous condition.
A Pap smear is a quick and painless test that involves a simple swab of your cervix with a cotton swab. The cell sample is then sent to a medical lab for evaluation, and you should get your results within a few days.
A negative Pap smear result means that no cell changes were detected, so there’s no reason for concern. You can expect to have another routine Pap smear the following year unless new symptoms develop.
If your Pap smear results are diagnosed as abnormal, it can indicate that you have cancer or precancerous cells in your cervix. However, this isn’t always what an abnormal Pap smear means. Other possible causes of your abnormal results can include:
As any of these issues can affect your Pap smear results, it’s important that you follow through with additional recommended tests. A Pap smear serves only as a screening tool, and further evaluation is needed to confirm a diagnosis.
After receiving your abnormal Pap smear results, your doctor at The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group can determine your next step. They may opt to repeat the Pap smear and see if the results are the same.
Many women may also need to undergo a diagnostic colposcopy. With this noninvasive procedure, which occurs in the office, your gynecologist uses a special instrument, known as a colposcope, to examine your cervix. The colposcope contains a light and a special magnifier that makes abnormal cervical cells easier to spot.
In some cases, a special solution is also applied to your cervix to highlight cancerous or precancerous cells. During your colposcopy, your gynecologist can also perform a biopsy, a procedure that removes a small sample of cervical tissue for further evaluation.
If there are cancerous or precancerous cervical cells present, your doctor at The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group can perform a loop electrosurgical excision at the office to remove them. With this procedure, a heated wire loop is inserted into your lower genital tract where it then removes the abnormal cells.
While it can be scary to get Pap smear results that are abnormal, not having routine Pap smears can put your health at risk. Early detection of cervical cancer can give you the advantage of receiving treatment early to protect your health.
If it’s been some time since your last Pap smear, schedule one with The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group today by booking an appointment online or over the phone.