An abnormal Pap smear doesn’t mean you have cancer but does require further investigation. The professional and compassionate team at Roswell ObGyn, LLC, in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, and Cumming, Georgia, provides follow-up care for women with abnormal Pap tests. For patient-centered care from a team that puts your health first, call or schedule an appointment online today.
A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. For the test, your provider at Roswell ObGyn, LLC collects a sample of cells from your cervix and sends it to the pathology lab for testing.
You should start Pap smears at age 21 and continue screenings every three years up until you reach age 29. At 30, you may combine your Pap smear with a human papillomavirus (HPV) test. The HPV test also collects and analyzes tissue from the cervix.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that increases the risk of cervical cancer. If your HPV test is negative, you only need a Pap smear every five years.
An abnormal Pap smear means the pathologist found unusual cells in your swab. However, this doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer or even precancerous cells. In many cases, the cellular changes are due to HPV.
The severity of the cell change ranges from mild to serious. Mild cell changes may return to normal, while serious changes may require additional treatments.
Your abnormal Pap smear may mean you have:
ASCUS means your squamous cells are abnormal. Squamous cells are the flat cells that line the surface of your cervix. If the pathologist finds ASCUS, then an HPV test is recommended.
A squamous intraepithelial lesion means you may have precancerous squamous cells. The cells are then classified as low-grade (years away from turning cancerous) or high-grade (may turn cancerous soon).
When you have atypical glandular cells, it means your pathologist found changes in the glandular cells that produce mucus at the opening of the cervix, which may need further investigation.
If your abnormal Pap smear finds squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma cells, then you may have cancer.
Your practitioner performs a colposcopy following your abnormal Pap. For this in-office procedure, they use a colposcope (special magnifying device) to closely examine the lining of your cervix.
They may take samples of abnormal tissue for further testing or perform a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove high-grade cells.
Call Roswell ObGyn, LLC, or book online to learn more about abnormal Pap results and what happens next.