If you have had an abnormal PAP test, you are not alone. Many women have abnormal results on one or more PAP tests during their lifetime. So, what is the next step? The first step is not to panic. One abnormal result on a PAP does not mean that you have cervical cancer. A PAP test or “smear” as it is sometimes called is simply a gynecologic test that can be used to check for changes in the cells of the cervix. This important screening test provides for early treatment so that abnormal cells do not become cancer.
The main cause of an abnormal PAP test is the HPV (Human Papillomavirus): a common type of infection that is transmitted through sexual activity. There are many different types of HPV, some of which are associated with cervical cancer. If you have an abnormal result on your PAP test, your doctor will most likely recommend further testing. The type of testing that he or she will recommend will depend on your age and the grade of dysplasia or severity of the changes in the cells in the cervix. Your physician may recommend simply repeating the test either in six or twelve months. He or she may also recommend an HPV test, a Colposcopy, Endocervical Sampling (biopsy) or a LEEP procedure. Once you have had an abnormal result, you will want to make sure to visit your gynecologist regularly for PAP testing
Getting PAP tests as frequently as your gynecologist recommends it one of the best things you can do to reduce your risks for developing cervical cancer. If you have not been to the gynecologist lately for PAP testing, make an appointment today.