When you have your regularly scheduled Pap smear, it’s a fairly routine affair. Your provider takes a swab sample, sends it to a lab, and you wait to hear the results, but no news is good news. However, if you get a notification that your Pap smear is abnormal, you might have some concerns or fears.
At Healthstone Primary, with three convenient locations in Weston, Pembroke Pines, and Davie, Florida, our team of women’s health professionals are here for you when you have these worries or other questions. Here’s everything you need to know about what happens when you have an abnormal Pap result.
The Pap smear, also known as the Pap test, was developed by George Papanicolaou in 1928 and proved efficient in detecting early signs of cervical cancer by 1941. Since then, the Pap smear has been utilized worldwide as a clinical tool for early cancer detection. Over the past 30 years, routine Pap smears may be responsible for reducing cervical cancer rates by an estimation of up to 492,000 cases.
The test itself only takes a few minutes. We collect a sample of cervical cells by scraping the entrance of the cervix at the innermost end of your vaginal canal and sending the sample to the lab for testing. In most cases, Pap smear samples are normal. Occasionally, a sample has an abnormal result, but this doesn’t automatically mean cancer is present.
An abnormal Pap smear result only means that abnormalities have been detected in the sample sent to the lab. In most cases, these abnormalities simply show harmless changes in your cervical cells, which can happen due to hormonal shifts or aging.
We’ll rerun the test sooner than your next routine exam, and we might order annual Pap testing for a time instead of testing every 3-5 years as usual. We may also place an order for additional testing of your cervical cells, which could include one or more of the following:
Be aware that for many people with a cervix, an abnormal Pap smear result shows up if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as herpes or human papillomavirus (HPV), which are both extremely common and often undiagnosed. You can even get an abnormal Pap result if you had your Pap smear done while you were experiencing a yeast or bacterial infection.
In the rare case that your abnormal Pap smear was indicative of cancer, the test did its job and proved beneficial in providing an early warning to commence treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor then discusses the treatment plan to remove the cancer and restore your health.
To learn more about abnormal Pap smears and get the care you need, call Healthstone Primary today or request an appointment through our website.