If your Pap smear results come back as abnormal, it’s natural to be concerned. However, a number of things can cause this to happen, not just cancer.
At The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group, our experienced providers offer routine Pap smears as part of our preventive health services. We also offer follow-up testing and guidance if you have abnormal Pap smear results.
Purpose of a Pap smear
A Pap smear is a minimally invasive test that involves collecting a sample of cells from your cervix, which is a canal that connects your uterus and vagina.
Our providers collect the cell sample with a specialized brush during a pelvic exam. We send the sample to a medical lab for evaluation under a microscope. The lab looks for precancerous cell changes or cancerous cells that could indicate the presence of cervical cancer.
Pap smears are a way to screen for cancer in the earliest stages, when the condition is easier to treat. Without routine Pap smears, cancer cells could grow undetected and spread to other areas of your body, which could require more complex and invasive treatments.
Understanding Pap smear test results
When the results of your Pap smear are negative, there’s nothing else you need to do but stay on track with routine testing as recommended by our physicians.
If your Pap smear results come back as abnormal, it could be an indication of cancer. However, there can be other reasons for abnormal test results, such as:
- Vaginal infection
- Use of tampons
- Recent sexual activity
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
Some women may also get abnormal Pap smear results if they’re about to start or recently finished their period. This is due to the changes menstruation can cause in the cervix.
If your results come back as abnormal, our providers will discuss additional testing to identify what’s causing your abnormal results.
Follow-up testing after an abnormal Pap smear
If your results come back as abnormal, your provider will likely recommend that you get another Pap smear in a few months to see if your cervical cells have returned to normal. If the follow-up test also shows abnormal results, we can perform a colposcopy.
With a colposcopy, we place a magnifying device called colposcope just outside the vulva, which allows us to make a close examination of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. We also use a special liquid that enables us to highlight areas of tissue that require more testing.
We can also perform a biopsy to remove a sample of suspicious tissue for further evaluation under a microscope. Based on the results of the additional testing, your provider can discuss your options for treating the cancer or other underlying condition.
For instance, we may recommend using a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). With this procedure, we use a heated wire to remove precancerous or cancerous tissue. Or, if you have a vaginal infection or STD, your provider can recommend other options. No matter your situation, your provider will guide you to the best treatment for your situation.
To get a Pap smear or to discuss your next steps if you get an abnormal result, book an appointment online or over the phone with The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group today.