An Abnormal Pap – What’s next?

A Pap Smear is a gynecologic test that is used to check for changes in the cells of a woman’s cervix. A Pap Smear checks for signs of infection, abnormal cervical cells, and/or cervical cancer. Early detection through a Pap Smear can give women a greater chance for a cure from cervical cancer. Abnormal cells may suggest that cancer will develop, and detecting these cells early with a Pap Smear is often the first step in halting possible cancer development.

If you receive an abnormal result from a Pap Smear, the first thing to remember is not to panic. Your doctor will probably choose to repeat the test because “false positive” results can occur. If the results of a repeated Pap Smear are also abnormal, your doctor will suggest further tests such as a colposcopy or a biopsy of the cervix. One in ten Pap Smears will result in some abnormality, but most of these are not serious.

The main cause of an abnormal Pap Smear is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – a common type of infection that is transmitted through sexual activity. While there is no cure for HPV, there are treatment options; and many times the infection will clear on its own. Refraining from promiscuity and multiple sex partners is a great way to avoid an abnormal Pap Smear. Since many sexually transmitted diseases can cause an abnormal Pap, avoiding multiple sex partners can benefit your health greatly.

Your gynecologists will work with you to determine the next steps needed if you receive abnormal results from your Pap Smear. Remember not to panic, to voice your concerns, and to make all appointments set up by your doctor. Your gynecologist will work with you to promote your health and to help you find answers and treatment if necessary.

Posted on behalf of Sean Lambert M.D., North Pointe OB/GYN Associates

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