If you’re a woman, a Pap smear is important for your reproductive health. This screening test can detect cervical cancer at an early stage so you can receive effective treatment. But when you get the call that your test is abnormal, you may, understandably, be concerned.
Don’t worry. Many abnormal results are nothing to be concerned about.
If you’re dealing with an abnormal Pap smear, Dr. John Paul Roberts and his team are here to help. With an office located conveniently in Plano, Texas, Dr. Roberts is a highly experienced OB/GYN who can determine the reason for an abnormal Pap test and explain any next steps.
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a preventive test that screens for cellular changes in your cervix. The main purpose of a Pap smear is to look for precancerous or cancerous cells growing within your cervix.
Generally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the test is done every three years if you’re age 21-29 and every five years if you’re age 30-65. You may need more frequent testing if you have HIV or AIDS, or have a weak immune system.
Dr. Roberts may also perform an HPV test to look for the human papillomavirus, which can cause changes to the cells in your cervix as well.
We often do a Pap test during your normal pelvic exam. After Dr. Roberts checks your cervix, he takes a small swab and scrapes some cells from the inside of your cervix.
We then send the sample to a lab, where it’s analyzed for cancerous changes or other issues.
The cause of abnormal results
Abnormal Pap smear results can indicate different conditions. When you get the call that your test is abnormal, don’t have to panic. It doesn’t always mean you have full-blown cervical cancer.
A Pap test is a screening tool used to find changes in your cervix before cancer occurs. These changes could be due to:
If your Pap smear comes back abnormal, it could be the result of cell changes caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease.
Precancerous cells are those cells that have changed and may become cancer in the future if not taken care of. These cells don’t always turn to cancer, but do significantly increase your risk.
We rarely find cervical cancer cells such as adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but it can happen. If this does, it’s usually in women who haven’t had regular Pap test screenings.
You don’t always have to worry
If you’ve just received the call that your Pap test is abnormal, don’t freak out just yet. There are a few encouraging facts about an abnormal Pap smear.
Cervical cancer can be prevented
Even if your Pap test shows abnormal cells, it typically takes years for precancerous cells to turn into full-blown cervical cancer. And even though an abnormal test usually isn’t a cancer diagnosis, don’t put off further testing and treatment. Together, we can prevent cervical cancer.
Abnormal results often aren’t cancer
We’ve said it before: Most abnormal Pap tests aren’t due to cancer. Other reasons for cellular changes include infection, inflammation, and herpes or trichomoniasis.
Different types of abnormal Pap results
Changes to your cells may either be low-grade or high-grade. Low-grade cervical changes mean the cells are only slightly changed and aren’t likely to turn into cancer.
High grade abnormal cells have significant changes and are likely to turn into cancer cells if not treated.
Pap screenings save lives
One study showed that when a Pap test found cervical cancers, the cure rate was 92%. But among women who were diagnosed because of symptoms, the cure rate fell to 66%.
Dr. Roberts takes your results seriously and provides fast and efficient treatment options. You may need to come in for another test called a colposcopy, or undergo a procedure called a LEEP to get rid of the precancerous cells. Either way, you’re in great hands.
If you have questions about your Pap smear results, don’t hesitate to call our office in Plano, Texas, or book an appointment with Dr. Roberts through our website.