What is a Pap smear?
The cervix is located in the lower part of the uterus at the top of your vagina. A pap smear is a screening test for the detection of pre-cancerous changes or cervical cancer. The majority of these changes are caused by the HPV virus. The identification of these changes can allow for increased surveillance or intervention when indicated and to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer in the future.
Abnormal Pap Smear Consultation
If your pap smear is abnormal, a colposcopy may be recommended. This is a test that allows the cervix to be examined under a microscope. Often times a cervical biopsy is performed. This is usually not painful. This allows for a better interpretation of the pap result.
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What you can expect during your Pap test?
There is not really any preparation that is required for a Pap smear. There are a few precautions and things to avoid a few days before your Pap test.
- Sexual intercourse
- Powders, sprays, or other menstrual products
- Vaginal suppositories, creams, medicines
- Feminine hygiene products, douches and tampons
Even though a Pap test can be done during your period, it is best to try and schedule it between your periods.
How to better understand your results
What to expect
Normally you will get your Pap test results back within a week or two. A common result for most Pap test is “normal.” This generally means that there are no abnormal cervical cells. At the same time as the pap is done, typically an HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) test is done as well.
If you do not get a normal Pap test result, this does not mean that you have cervical cancer. Depending on the results, typically additional testing or repeat pap testing will be recommended to better understand the result.
There are a variety of reasons why a result can be abnormal:
- Abnormal Pap result from inflammation
- Abnormal Pap result from HPV
- Abnormal Pap result from infection
Abnormal cells in the cervix are typically graded in severity. The common grades are:
- ASCUS (Atypical Squamous cells of undetermined significance)
- LGSIL (Low Grade Squamous intraepithelial lesion)
- HGSIL (High Grade Squamous intraepithelial lesion)
- AGUS (Atypical Glandular cells of undetermined significance)
- CIS (Carcinoma in situ)
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