My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal — Now What?

If your Pap smear results come back anything but normal, it can be a little disconcerting. Dr. Lena Speck Hopkins is an experienced OB/GYN located in Harlingen, TX. She can reassure you and recommend the best care for your gynecologic health needs in the event your Pap test shows atypical results.

What is a Pap smear? 

A Pap smear is a screening tool that is used to detect any abnormal cells on your cervix. Gynecological care should begin at the onset of puberty, but experts recommend that women have a Pap smear done every 3 years starting at the age of 21. After age 30, Pap smears can be done only every 5 years if an HPV test is done at the same time. Getting regular Pap smears helps ensure that any abnormalities can be detected early and treated quickly.

What an abnormal Pap smear could mean

Approximately one in 10 Pap smear procedures show abnormal cells. It’s natural to feel scared when you find out that your Pap smear shows “dysplasia,” which means abnormal cells. If this happens, we’ll recommend further testing to rule out any serious complications.

There could be multiple reasons for an abnormal Pap smear, such as an infection, inflammation in the pelvic area, sexual activity, human papillomavirus (HPV) or genital warts, or precancerous cells. Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer, so oftentimes even if the abnormal cells are precancerous, treatment can remove the cancer. 

Different types of abnormal Pap smear results include:

ASC-US (Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance)

This simply means there have been changes found in your cervical cells. It typically means that an HPV infection has been detected, and it’s the most common result for abnormal Pap results.

LSIL (Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion)

This is when your cervical cells show slightly abnormal changes that happen slowly. This is also commonly caused by an HPV infection. Treatment may be recommended, but this condition tends to go away on its own. Dr. Speck Hopkins lets you know if additional follow-ups are necessary. 

HSIL (High-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion)

The changes of cervical cells in this result are high grade, which shows more serious developments than a low-grade result. These abnormal cells may be precancerous or cancerous.

ASC-H (Atypical squamous cells)

This means that any changes in your cervical cells are potentially indicative of HSIL. 

AGC (Atypical glandular cells)

Glandular cells are found in the inner canal of the cervix and within the uterus. This form of Pap smear result may indicate precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix or uterus.

If you have an abnormal Pap, you may require an additional Pap smear or colposcopy, which involves the doctor looking at the cervix through a special microscope. You may also require a biopsy, which examines tissue taken from your cervix. At that point, Dr. Speck Hopkins will discuss any diagnosis and further treatment options. 

If you’re concerned about your Pap smear results and want to ensure that you get the best care possible, call our office at 956-257-9488 today to set up your consultation. You can also send us a message here on our website.

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