About 4,000 women in the United States die each year from cervical cancer. Early detection through a Pap smear improves your chances of getting successful treatment for the condition.
Receiving an abnormal result from your Pap smear can be unsettling, leaving you with questions and concerns about what comes next. Here at South Plains Rural Health Services, we want to reassure you that an abnormal Pap smear result doesn't necessarily indicate a serious problem nor is it a diagnosis of cancer.
We will guide you through what to do if your Pap smear results are abnormal, what the results mean, and the steps you should take for your continued gynecological health.
Understanding an abnormal pap smear result
An abnormal Pap smear result is not a cause for immediate concern. These results are a screening tool, and they can show various abnormalities, not all of which are related to cancer. Here are some common reasons for abnormal Pap smear results:
Sometimes, an abnormal result is related to a minor infection, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Infections can cause temporary changes in cervical cells.
Cervical inflammation can also lead to abnormal Pap results. This inflammation might be caused by factors such as recent sexual activity or the use of certain products.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
The presence of certain strains of HPV, a sexually transmitted virus, can result in an abnormal Pap result. HPV is a common cause of cervical cell changes, and not all strains lead to cervical cancer.
Steps to take up after an abnormal Pap smear
In many cases, we recommend a follow-up Pap smear to monitor the changes in your cervical cells. Oftentimes, the abnormality in the cells resolves on its own. A repeat Pap smear a few months after the “abnormal” one may come back negative and show that there is no concerning problem.
Other steps you may require include:
Depending on the findings, we may recommend HPV testing. HPV is a known risk factor for cervical cancer, and identifying the specific strain of HPV can guide further management and treatment.
If your repeat Pap smear or HPV test indicates the need for further evaluation, we may recommend a colposcopy. During this procedure, we use a special magnifying instrument to examine the cervix more closely.
If the colposcopy reveals concerning areas, we may conduct a biopsy to assess the extent of cell changes. This is often a minor procedure done in the office that involves collecting a small sample of cells and sending them to a laboratory for analysis.
Treatment for abnormal Pap results
The treatment for an abnormal Pap result depends on the specific findings. In many cases, mild changes may resolve on their own. If you do have signs of possible cancerous cells, we’ll discuss specific treatment plans with you depending on the extent of the cellular changes.
Remember, the vast majority of abnormal Pap results do not indicate cancer. Early detection and prompt management of cervical abnormalities are essential for preventing the progression to cervical cancer.
Here at South Plains Rural Health Services, we recommend regular screenings, such as Pap smears, as a way to monitor your gynecological health and prevent cervical cancer. If you have received an abnormal Pap smear result or have questions about your gynecological health, don't hesitate to reach out.
Call us at South Plains Rural Health today, or use our online scheduling tool to book your appointment.