ABNORMAL PAP SMEARS Q & A
Abnormal Pap Smears Specialist
What Is an Abnormal Pap Smear?
Pap smears are used to screen women for cancer of the cervix (mouth of the womb). During a pelvic exam, the doctor or nurse gently scrapes tissue from the cervix. The cells are smeared on a glass slide and examined under a microscope. An abnormal result means some of the cells show unusual changes. That does not mean the patient has cancer, but it could be an early indicator of problems.
What's the significance of an Abnormal Pap Smear?
One possibility is an ASC (atypical squamous cells). This means that cells from the surface of the cervix have changed, which could be due to a vaginal infection or a virus called HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is the virus that causes genital warts and can also cause cervical cancer. HSIL (high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion) results indicate the cells are very different from normal cells and indicate a higher risk of cancer. ASC-H indicates there may be high grade lesions, and the risk of cancer is higher. LSIL (low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion) is usually associated with an HPV infection. AGC stands for atypical glandular cells, which indicates a higher risk for cervical cancer.
How is an Abnormal Pap Smear handled?
Treatment is determined by the results of the abnormal Pap smear. ASC results are usually not treated, but the doctor may want to repeat the Pap smear or do HPV testing. When a patient has ASC-H, HSIL or ACG results, the doctor is likely to perform a colposcopy to examine the cells more closely. For LSIL results, the doctor may repeat the Pap smear or perform a colposcopy.
What is a Colposcopy?
A colposcope is a diagnostic tool with a special magnifying lens to examine the vulva, vagina, and cervix more closely. It is inserted into the vagina during a pelvic examination and allows the doctor to see if any abnormalities are present. During the colposcopy, the doctor may also take biopsies (tissue samples) from areas of concern.
*Individual results may vary