What does an abnormal Pap smear indicate?
A Pap smear is a cervical cancer screening tool. The frequency with which it is done is determined by your previous pap smear results and/or your individual health risks. The pap smear looks for abnormal changes in the cells from your cervix and your HPV status.
Abnormal changes in the cells from your cervix can be precancerous or cancerous. These abnormal cells, if left untreated, can develop into cervical cancer eventually.
HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus. It is a sexually transmitted infection that infects the cells of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. HPV has many different strains that are grouped into high risk and low grade strains. Low risk HPV strains can cause genital warts, which can be a nuisance but are not dangerous. High risk HPV infections can cause intracellular changes that lead to precancerous or cancerous lesions of the cervix, vulva, or vagina.
Dr. Bhanot encourages her patients to get routine annual exams and routine cervical screening. If you have an abnormal Pap smear she will go advise you on the best path for continued surveillance along with the most appropriate next steps in diagnosis and treatment.
Abnormal Pap smear results aren’t the same as a diagnosis. Even if your Pap smear results come back as abnormal, you might not have anything serious to worry about. Pap tests can come back positive if you recently had sexual intercourse or used certain products to clean yourself.
What’s the next step after an abnormal Pap smear?
If your Pap smear results are abnormal, a few more steps help your gynecologist determine what the problem is and how to fix it. One option is for your physician to perform a colposcopy. During a colposcopy, your provider uses a magnifying instrument to get a closer view of the cells of your cervix. When they see abnormalities, they take biopsy samples to send in for further testing.
If a biopsy also comes back abnormal, your gynecologist may order a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove these abnormal cells. During the LEEP, your gynecologist numbs the area with local anesthesia. Then, they carefully remove the abnormal cells using a wire loop that emits an electrical current.
Call Preete Bhanot MD to book an appointment your next Pap smear or to find out more about abnormal Pap smear results.