What if I have an abnormal Pap test?
If your latest Pap test results came back positive, it does not mean you have cervical cancer. It does mean your doctor found some unusual or abnormal cells on your cervix that will likely require further evaluation. Often, abnormal test results are caused by the HPV or human papilloma virus, and these changes can range from mild to more severe.
Most cell changes go away on their own, however, some types of HPV are linked to cervical cancer, another reason Pap tests are so essential. In addition, bacterial or yeast infections and changes brought on my menopause can also affect the results of pelvic exams.
Additional testing might include a colposcopy, which is similar to a Pap test but uses a lighted magnifying tool to pinpoint the changing cells, as well as a repeat pap test with HPV testing at a later time. Most often if you are under the age of 30, the pap test is just looking at the cells of the cervix itself, but if you are 30 years or older, the pap test is usually sent for not only the cells of the cervix but also HPV testing. A biopsy of the abnormal cells can provide further information and recommendations.
From there, the prognosis might be “watch and wait” if the cervical changes are low grade, removal of cervical tissue for moderate to high-grade changes or a minor surgical procedure.
“If you have any questions about Pap tests or your latest results, we are happy to discuss the procedure itself, your specific results and next steps,” said Dr. Jewelia Wagner. “It is also important to know that most cases of cervical cancer are preventable with regular Pap tests and follow-up as needed.”