Abnormal Pap Smear Results

Getting the call that your Pap smear results were abnormal can be alarming. The fear of not knowing just what ‘abnormal’ entails can cause your mind to race and come up with scenarios that would scare the lights out of anyone! The best way to put an end to those scary thoughts is to understand just what an abnormal pap can mean.

Breaking Down The Abnormal

Getting abnormal Pap smear results doesn’t mean cancer. Many times an abnormal Pap is the result of an infection or even something as simple as having had intercourse before the test. Many times the results are due to cell changes on the cervix known as dysplasia which ranges from mild to moderate to severe. Dysplasia is considered precancerous which means that there is a chance that they can lead to cervical cancer. The majority of cases of mild to moderate dysplasia will clear up on their own without any treatment, but since the risk of cancer is there then it’s something that needs to be monitored and taken seriously. The more severe cases of dysplasia of course mean a slightly higher risk of cancer and therefore treatment is an absolute must.

A few abnormal Pap results are due to cancer. The earlier cervical cancer can be detected the better a woman’s chance for survival. And because regular Pap smears can detect precancerous cells you really can avoid invasive cervical cancer by being diligent about getting tested regularly and following up with your doctor regarding your abnormal Pap smear results.

To give you a better idea of what your results may look like, here is an example of the grading used by doctors:

ASCUS: This stands for ‘atypical cells of undetermined significance’ which is the most common type of abnormal result. This simply means that there are some changes to the cells that are not quite normal and will need to be checked again.

CIN1: Mild dysplasia. This means that there are abnormal cells in a third of the cervical lining.

CIN2: Moderate dysplasia. This means that two thirds of the lining of the cervix contain abnormal cells.

CIN3: Severe dysplasia. This means two thirds of cervical lining and up to the thickness of the cervical lining contain abnormal cells.

Following Up

We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to follow up on any type of abnormal Pap test result. Even something that has been deemed as ‘mild’ should still be taken seriously since this is your health that we’re talking about. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain your results and what the next step is with regard to treating it. Don’t leave your health in the hands of others by expecting them to follow up. This means being proactive about getting information and making sure that a follow up or a treatment is scheduled based on your results.

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