What is an Abnormal Pap Result?
After your gynecologist performs a Pap test during an appointment, the swab is sent to a lab for testing. If the result comes back ‘positive’, it means the lab found abnormal cells on your cervix tissue. This does not necessarily mean they are cancer cells, but rather normal cells that have changed because of exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV). These changes can range from mild to severe, and your gynecologist will determine whether you need further testing from here.
Why is Pap Testing Important?
Regular pap smears can test for the presence of abnormal cells on your cervix which can later become cancerous. There are some different types of cells that can be found during a Pap test which can be indicative of whether cancer might develop later on. For this reason, it’s important to have regular Pap tests so that your gynecologist can take a proactive approach to treatment and further testing. It’s important to keep in mind that a majority of abnormal Pap results are ultimately false alarms.
About Cervical Cancer
A Pap smear test is performed to look for abnormal cells on the cervix. HPV testing looks for Human Papillomavirus, a virus associated with nearly all cancers of the cervix. Fortunately, cervical cancer is very rare, and nearly all abnormal Pap smears end up being a false alarm. You don’t need to worry too much about abnormal Pap results, but your gynecologist will still recommend further testing to be sure.
There are usually no symptoms of early-stage cervical cancer, so routine Pap tests are important to detect issues in the earliest stage possible. Cervical cancer is very treatable, with survival rates close to 100% when detected and treated early.
How Can My Gynecologist Help?
During your regular appointment, your gynecologist can perform a Pap test. We generally recommend having one every three years, but this can depend on factors like your age range and results. If you receive abnormal results, then your gynecologist can perform some additional tests like a colposcopy and biopsy to determine the kind of cells present and whether they may be cancerous. It’s important to ask any questions you might have about your results, the process, and what preventative steps you can take. Your gynecologist is here to help!
Schedule an Appointment
An abnormal Pap result can be frightening, but your gynecologist can help you through the process to make sure you understand your options and results. To get started and meet with our expert team, contact our New York City office by calling or filling out our online form.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can a pap smear detect fibroids?
Pap smear does not detect fibroids.
Can endometriosis cause abnormal Pap?
Cervical endometriosis, or endometriosis causing growths on the cervix, can theoretically be detected through an abnormal Pap smear result. However, this condition is very rare.
Are Pap smears mandatory?
As a screening for cervical cancer, Pap smears are highly recommended for women over the age of 21 until later in life, around age 65. They are not required every year, and depending on the results of each test, may only need to be performed every three to five years.
At what age can a woman stop having Pap smears?
Depending on the results of your last few Pap smears, you should continue to have them until it’s well established that there are no dangerous precancerous cells on the cervix.
Can a yeast infection cause an abnormal pap?
Yes, yeast infections can lead to an abnormal pap smear finding known as atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US).
How long do pap smear results take?
How quickly you receive your pap smear test results depends on the lab that examines the sample. Some labs may take a couple of days, while others may take up to three weeks.