The Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is designed to allow your OB/GYN a quick and simple method to evaluate the health of cells in your cervix. Often a part of your pelvic exam, most women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have a Pap smear every three years.
A vital function of a Pap smear is to detect abnormal cells that may indicate cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer if left untreated. Pap smears can be combined with HPV screening during your well-woman exam to help you stay healthy.
If you’ve received abnormal Pap smear results, it is not necessarily an indicator of cancer. Nevertheless, abnormal results can be confusing and even scary. Athens OB/GYN Dr. Judson Shelnutt of Shelnutt Gynecology can explain the results of your Pap smear in language you can understand. Depending on the results, he may recommend additional testing or simply monitor your condition.
When will I know the results of my Pap smear?
Pap smear test results typically take four to five days to come back from the lab. In most cases, Pap results are normal. If so, you can expect to have another test in about three years. If your results are abnormal, you will receive a call from our team to set an appointment to confer with Dr. Shelnutt.
Abnormal Pap smear results don’t always mean you have cervical cancer. Abnormal cells in your cervix can mean several different things. To determine the cause of your results, Dr. Shelnutt will work with you to develop a care plan and perform additional testing. You will receive a follow-up appointment to discuss the results of these new tests.
What else can produce an abnormal Pap smear?
Abnormal or unclear results can stem from a variety of causes or factors. Some other causes of abnormal results can include:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Hormonal changes
- Noncancerous cysts
- Yeast infection
However, the most common cause of abnormal Pap smear results is HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. There is currently no cure for HPV, but closely monitoring your condition can help you and Dr. Shelnutt stay on top of your condition.
Do I need more tests?
Additional testing is necessary to discover what caused your abnormal Pap smear. Depending on your results, Dr. Shelnutt may recommend a more frequent schedule of Pap smears in order to more closely monitor the cells in your cervix. In most cases, this is the best treatment option to maintain your health and prevent cancerous growth.
Dr. Shelnutt may recommend a noninvasive test called a colposcopy to help identify precancerous or cancerous cells. If this magnified view of your cervix identifies suspicious cells, you may need a biopsy to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis. If cancerous cells are detected, Dr. Shelnutt will discuss treatment options.
For experienced, effective care, visit our Athens office. To get a Pap smear or discuss your options when it comes to abnormal Pap smear results, call our office or make an appointment online today.