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Abnormal Pap Smear

Early diagnosis of cervical cancer greatly improves your chance of beating the disease. At Suburban Women’s Specialists in Johns Creek, Georgia, Dr. Anthony and Dr. Chua perform Pap smears as a regular screening for cervical cancer. If your results should come back abnormal, they offer further screenings to determine the probable cause and provide the appropriate treatment. If you need a Pap smear or have had an abnormal test, call the office or book an appointment online to learn the next steps in your diagnosis and treatment.

Abnormal Pap Smear Q&A

What is a Pap Smear?

Pap smears are used to screen for cervical cancer, and Dr. Anthony or Dr. Chua may utilize this exam during a regular well-woman visit. During the pelvic exam, the doctor uses a swab to collect cells from the surface of the cervix. These cells are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The test is relatively painless but may cause a moment of pressure or discomfort.

What is an Abnormal Pap Smear?

An abnormal Pap smear means the laboratory found irregular cervical cells in your sample. But an abnormal Pap smear usually does not mean you have cancer. Abnormalities often occur due to other causes, such as:

  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Herpes
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Trichomoniasis

The lab also rates your abnormal cells as “high grade” or “low grade.” High-grade cells are more likely to develop into cancer.

How is an Abnormal Pap Smear Addressed?

Following an unclear or inconclusive Pap smear, Dr. Anthony or Dr. Chua may order a second test to be performed in a few months. In many cases, the irregular cells resolve themselves and the second test is normal.

A Pap smear is not a diagnosis of cancer, but it can indicate an increased risk. If your abnormal cells call for further screening, the next step is a colposcopy.

What is Colposcopy?

During a colposcopy, Dr. Anthony or Dr. Chua uses a special microscope, called a colposcope, to examine your cervix more thoroughly.

During the procedure, the doctor applies a vinegar-like solution to your cervix, which helps abnormal cells become more apparent. She inspects your cervix through the colposcope, which remains on a stand throughout the procedure and doesn’t touch you. If the doctor sees abnormalities, she takes a sample of tissue (a biopsy) to send to the lab for further analysis.

How are Abnormal Cells Treated?

Your doctor at Suburban Women’s Specialists may freeze the abnormal cells or remove them using a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP.)

During a LEEP, a heated wire loop is used to remove a thin layer of abnormal tissue from your cervix. Removing these cells can prevent cervical cancer from manifesting.

To learn more about your treatment options following an abnormal Pap smear, call Suburban Women’s Specialists or book an appointment online.