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January 17, 2018 • Family MedicineOB/GYN
A Pap test, or Pap smear, is a quick and easy exam that detects cervical cancer. If you receive an “abnormal” or Pap result from your doctor, it means that there were changes in the cells found on your cervix.
Although an abnormal test result can be worrisome, it does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Of about 3 million women who receive an abnormal or unclear result from a Pap test each year, only about 10,000 are actually cases of cervical cancer.
What Does Abnormal Mean?
An abnormal result refers to changes in the cells, and there are many possible cell changes that do not indicate cervical cancer. Cells might be dying, or could be undergoing an abnormal dividing process, for example.
Possible Causes of Abnormal Cells
A few conditions might cause you to receive an abnormal result on your Pap smear, including:
If you receive an abnormal Pap result, your doctor will probably ask you to come back for a follow-up appointment. They’ll use a process called a colposcopy (using a special magnifying glass) to take a closer look and may take a tissue sample for testing.
If your abnormal result turns out to be HPV, STIs or vaginal inflammation, your doctor will provide treatment recommendations. If the cells are precancerous, your doctor might use one of the following methods to get rid of them:
Your doctor or gynecologist can provide more information about your Pap smear results.
I practice the full range of family medicine including obstetrics, pediatrics, adolescent medicine, adult medicine and some orthopedics. I also perform colposcopy, cryotherapy and vasectomies. Due to the volume of deliveries we do, my practice has evolved to be more centered on women and children’s medicine, although I enjoy all aspects of family medicine.
“Your PAP Came Back Abnormal. Here’s What You Need to Know!” Women’s Healthcare Associates. http://www.whatexas.com/blogs/2017/december/your-pap-came-back-abnormal-heres-what-you-need-.aspx
“Abnormal Pap Test – Topic Overview”. WebMD
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.