Pap smears, also called Pap tests, are an important part of maintaining good health for women age 21 on or within 3 years of becoming sexually active. They’re quick, painless, and a valuable way to detect and treat any problems early on. If your pap smear came back with abnormal results, your doctor might need to investigate further.
Learn more about Pap smears by calling New England Women’s Healthcare or requesting an appointment on our website.
There’s no need to panic
When you hear that your Pap smear results were abnormal, you might feel some anxiety. Although worry is a common and normal reaction, it’s important to know that your test results merely showed that you have an infection or unusual cells known as dysplasia. None of this means you have cancer. The results only mean that you may need to take more steps to determine whether there’s a problem such as precancerous cells in need of treatment.
You may need additional tests
Given your abnormal Pap test results, your provider might recommend additional tests to confirm or rule out the following issues:
- An infection, such as herpes
- Issues related to HPV, or the human papillomavirus
- Precancerous cells
Your added tests may include another Pap smear, a colposcopy test, which uses a microscope to examine your cervix, or a biopsy, which removes a tiny amount of cervical tissue for analysis.
Treating abnormal cells can prevent cancer
It’s important to follow through with any recommended testing after your abnormal pap smear, especially because it could prevent cancer. Many abnormal results derive from human papillomavirus. Typically referred to as HPV, it’s the most common sexually-transmitted infection and raises your risk for cervical cancer. HPV is also associated with cancers of the anus, oropharynx, vulva, and vagina. Thankfully, most people who receive treatment for abnormal cells never develop cervical cancer. Pap smears help save many lives by detecting precancerous cells.
You might need more tests in the future
As another preventative measure after abnormal results, you’ll probably need to schedule Pap smears annually, versus the standard once every three years. These and any other recommended follow-up exams are important for making sure the abnormal cells have diminished and that your cervix has fully healed and remains healthy. The added tests can also catch any early signs of abnormal cell recurrences.
You don’t have to be scared anymore! If you have questions about Pap smears or your results, contact us today. Our team at New England Women’s Healthcare would love to assist you.