You don’t have to panic if you’ve had an abnormal Pap smear – it doesn’t automatically mean you have cervical cancer, but it does mean you’ll likely need additional testing or evaluation. Experienced and caring gynecologist Regina Hill, MD, in Westlake, Ohio, can help you consider your options after an abnormal Pap smear. Call the practice, to schedule your appointment today.
Pap smear tests are used to screen women for cervical cancer, and an abnormal Pap smear result can mean there may be cancerous cells present. However, in most cases, abnormal Pap smear results are caused by issues other than cancer, including hormonal fluctuations, yeast infections, or infections with the human papillomavirus (HPV), an extremely common virus with more than 100 types. While some HPV infections can increase your risks of cancer or genital warts, most infections clear up on their own without causing any major or long-term problems.
In that case, usually one of two approaches will be taken: another Pap test may be performed, or another evaluation called a colposcopy may be used instead. In a colposcopy, a special magnifying instrument called a colposcope is used to evaluate your cervix.
The evaluation begins with a normal pelvic exam. A speculum is used to widen the vaginal canal and the colposcope is positioned at the opening of the vagina. The scope uses a light and a magnifying lens to make it easier for the doctor to visualize the cervix, and a camera can also be used to capture images for later review. A special solution may be applied to the cervix to highlight abnormal cells. A small sample of cells (a biopsy) may be taken for further evaluation in a lab.
Most colposcopies take about 10 minutes to complete. Any additional treatment will be determined once the results of the lab analysis are available.
Colposcopies require no anesthesia or sedation and you’ll go home right afterward. You may have some spotting or mild cramping if tissue samples were removed, but these effects will soon resolve. If biopsies were taken, you also may be instructed to avoid tampon use, douching and intercourse to allow the area to heal.
If you’re concerned about an abnormal pap smear test, contact Regina Hill, MD, for expert diagnosis and treatment. Call the office to schedule your next appointment.