My Pap Smear Results were Abnormal—Now What?

Did you get a Pap smear and find out your results were abnormal? Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have cancer, and it might not even mean anything is wrong. What it does mean is that you’ll have to come in for more tests before you get a definitive diagnosis.

Drs. Ivan Rovner, Julie Vu, Nora Hsu, Ralph Joseph, Laura Bradley, Dennis Eisenberg, and Karen Edwards-Key, as well as the rest of us here at North Texas Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates, want to make sure you’re informed before and after your Pap test. We also want to answer any questions you may have about what an abnormal result means, to give you some peace of mind. So, let’s dive in.

What does it mean when my results are abnormal?

Most women’s Pap smear results are negative/normal, which means that they do not have any evidence of abnormal cervical cell growth. However, if the test does find evidence of abnormal growth, it can be a scary thing. Many people think it means they definitely have cancer or that something is very, very wrong. However, most women who see an abnormal result on their Pap smears don’t have cancer at all.

The truth is that Pap smears are just screenings, meaning they aren’t always accurate, and they can’t pinpoint the cause of the abnormality. In some cases, they can even be altered by a poor sample this may occur if you’ve recently had intercourse or used a menstrual hygiene product. An infection or inflammation can also cause an abnormal result. In all actuality, you might not have anything wrong with you, but if the Pap smear tips your doctor off, he needs to perform further tests to follow up.

How should I respond if my results are abnormal?

If you receive an abnormal result from your Pap smear, another Pap test might be done just to confirm the result. This might be the case if you know there might be something you did that could have caused the abnormal result. 

Drs. Rovner, Vu, Hsu, Joseph, Bradley, Eisenberg, and Edwards-Key might also order an HPV (human papilloma virus) test to find out if this is the culprit behind your result. Again, having HPV doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. And while HPV itself cannot be treated, your doctor can easily treat some of its symptoms, such as genital warts and cervical precancer.

In many cases, a necessary test after an abnormal Pap smear is a colposcopy. To perform this test, your doctor will use a small microscope to look at your cervix. Sometimes, the cervix is swabbed with a solution (like vinegar) to help your doctor see the difference between the normal and abnormal cells abnormal cells tend to turn white.

In many cases, your doctor might want further confirmation that the abnormal cells are benign. This will require the removal of a small portion of the tissue from the cervix, known as a biopsy, which is then sent to a lab for study. Once the results from the biopsy come back, you and your doctor can discuss what’s going on, armed with a clear picture of the situation.

Can I make an appointment for a Pap smear?

If you would like to make an appointment for a Pap smear or a follow-up test at our Plano, TX office, simply contact us at 469-240-1866. We want to help you be as prepared and knowledgeable as possible when it comes to your health. 

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