What Does an Abnormal Pap Smear Mean for You?
feel a rush of fear and dread because the Pap smear is an effective detection tool used to catch cancers early. However, take a deep breath because an abnormal result does not mean that you have cancer.
Dr. Gerry Sotomayor is an experienced gynecologist whose office serves the residents of Norcross, Atlanta, and Peachtree Corners, GA. If you receive notification of an abnormal pap smear, don’t panic. Our skilled team at Gynecology and Cosmetic Surgery Center of Atlanta is here to answer all your questions and concerns while consulting with you on your next step.
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear can effectively detect abnormal cells on the cervix before they advance to cancer of the cervix. It is advised that women undergo a Pap smear as a preventive measure in combination with well-woman exams.
During a Pap smear, cells are collected from the lower end of the uterus and cervix. The cells are then examined for any abnormalities.
Many times, the Pap smear is also combined with a pelvic exam and a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Typically, the first Pap smear is recommended at age 21. The Pap smear is then carried out every three years from age 21 to 65. Women over the age of 30 could be advised to undergo Pap testing every five years.
In some instances, a physician might advise that you undergo more frequent pap smears.
Common reasons to undergo more frequent Pap smears in Atlanta include:
Previous diagnosis of cervical cancer
Detection of precancerous cells
Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
Weakened immune system
Who can forego a Pap smear?
In some situations, a woman might be advised to forgo a Pap smear.
After a total hysterectomy
Age 65 or older if they have no history of cervical cancer
Potential risks of an abnormal Pap smear
A Pap smear is considered a highly effective and safe way to screen for abnormal cells and diagnose early cervical cancer. However, no test is 100% foolproof. In some cases, the Pap smear might indicate abnormalities, but upon further investigation, you’ll find that things are normal.
In some cases, a false negative might occur that indicates there are abnormal cervical cells when there is no problem. A false negative often occurs when:
Test provides an inadequate collection of cells
Number of abnormal cells is very small.
Blood may obscure abnormal cells
Inflammation may mask cellular changes
Abnormal Pap smear
If you learn that your Pap smear detected abnormal cells, then it means that the test has rendered a positive result. However, a positive Pap smear does not mean that you have cervical cancer. All a positive Pap smear means is that abnormal cells have been detected.
After an abnormal pap smear occurs, Dr. Sotomayor may perform a colposcopy to further examine the tissue of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In some cases, additional tissue samples might also be obtained for further analysis.
Learn more about abnormal Pap smears in Norcross, GA
If your Pap smear comes back positive for the detection of abnormal cells, then you’ll want to schedule a visit with Dr. Gerry Sotomayor at Gynecology and Cosmetic Surgery Center of Atlanta in Norcross, GA to discuss the next step and develop a treatment plan.