My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal—Now What?

One of the most common women's wellness tests, and part of a typical pelvic exam, a Pap smear checks on the health of the cells in your cervix. Located at the top of your vaginal canal, your cervix can potentially be vulnerable to cervical cancer.

A Pap smear evaluates a small sample of your cervical tissues, checking for the presence of abnormal cells that potentially indicate cancer. At Suncoast Women's Care, Wanda Torres, MD, FACOG offers Pap smears as part of well-woman exams. For most women, she recommends Pap smears every three years between the ages of 21 and 65.

After we conduct your Pap smear, you receive your results from the lab. Your results will indicate normal or abnormal cells. The results of a Pap smear can be confusing or even frightening, so reach out to our care team right away for help interpreting your results. An abnormal result doesn't necessarily indicate that you have or will have cancer, but it can be the first step in identifying health issues in need of prompt treatment.

Risk factors

One factor that can increase your risk of contracting cervical cancer is the presence of untreated human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. We can add an HPV screening to your Pap smear to identify the condition right away and begin treatment if needed, lowering your risk of contracting cervical cancer.

An abnormal result?

About one to three weeks after your Pap smear, you receive your results. If your test returns as normal, you won't need any further treatment until your next scheduled Pap smear, typically about three years after your last one.

If your test returns with an abnormal result, it can indicate several things. An abnormal result might indicate the presence of cervical cancer, but it could also be caused by several other factors, so we always recommend additional testing to confirm. Other factors that could cause an abnormal result include:

At follow-up appointments, we can use further screenings to find out exactly what caused the abnormal result of your Pap smear. You might need more frequent Pap smears for a while to more closely monitor your cervical cells.

Treatment options

In most cases, we recommend careful and consistent monitoring as the best way to prevent cancerous growth in your cervix. If needed, a noninvasive colposcopy can help us confirm the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells. We use a biopsy to confirm a cancer diagnosis, and can treat cancerous cells in order to keep the cancer from developing further.

If you need a Pap smear, or are concerned about your risk of cervical cancer, contact Suncoast Women's Care today. Dr. Torres can support you through every step of the testing, diagnosis, and treatment process. To schedule your appointment, call our Trinity, Florida office, or use the online booking tool.

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