Abnormal Pap Smears
What is a Pap Smear?
A pelvic exam does not always mean a Pap Smear. During a visit with a gynecologist, a pelvic exam may be performed to evaluate the anatomy of the female organs. A speculum exam is usually a part of this evaluation that gives visual information regarding the health of the vaginal tissue. A Pap smear is a more specific type of exam that looks for early signs of cervical cancer.
Regular Pap tests have led to a significant reduction in cervical cancer deaths among women by checking for the early signs of cellular change and exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV).
Symptoms of Abnormal Pap Smears
Since you may not have any signs or symptoms of abnormal cervical cells or HPV infection, it is important to visit your physician regularly.
Causes and Risk Factors of Abnormal Pap Smears
There are many reasons for "abnormal" Pap test results. If results of the Pap test are unclear or show a small change in the cells of the cervix, the doctors will discuss with you the appropriate evaluation needed..
HPV infection is a major risk factor that leads to cervical cancer and abnormal Pap smears. The following factors may increase your risk of becoming infected with HPV:
- Multiple sexual partners
- Having a male sexual partner who has had multiple sexual partners
- Early age at which you first had sexual intercourse
Other Tests to Diagnosis Cervical Cancer
Pap smears, performed during your annual well-woman exam, are your best defense against developing cervical cancer. If a Pap smear finds abnormal changes with the cells of the cervix, the doctors at A Place for Women in Celebration and Dr. Phillips, Florida will recommend additional tests to help in diagnosis including:
- Colposcopy, which uses a type of microscope to see cervical and vaginal cells in greater detail
- Endocervical curettage in which your doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervical canal
- Biopsy of cervical tissue
Treatments and Therapies for Abnormal Pap Smears
Treatment and therapies for abnormal Pap smears available at A Place for Women depend on the underlying cause. Although abnormal cells may turn into cancer, they can also be cleared away by time or can be treated in the doctor’s office. Treating the unhealthy cells can significantly reduce your chances of developing cervical cancer.
Surgical Procedures for Abnormal Pap Smears
Surgical treatments for abnormal Pap smears include procedures to destroy or remove the abnormal cervical tissue.
Excision procedures include:
- A Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), uses a thin, wire loop with a painless electric current to remove a portion of the cervix. It can be done in the office or operating room with local anesthetic.
- Cervical cone biopsy (conization, CKC) uses a scalpel instead of a loop. It is performed in an operating room under general or regional anesthesia (epidural or spinal).
Ablative treatments include:
- Cryosurgery freezes and destroys the abnormal cervical tissue and can be done in the office.
- Laser ablation uses high intensity energy from a light beam to destroy abnormal areas of the cervix. It is usually performed in an operating room after the woman has received general anesthesia or regional anesthesia.
If you have ever had an abnormal Pap smear or Pap test and want to learn more about what you should do, contact A Place for Women at 321.939.3553.