What Does an Abnormal Pap Test Mean?
At Women’s Health Medical Group, we use Pap tests every day to screen our patients for cervical cancer. It is a standard gynecological procedure that collects a sample of cells from the patient’s cervix. The cells are sent to the lab for testing. This can give us an early heads up if the patient has abnormal results, but it doesn’t guarantee the patient has cervical cancer.
We use PapSure® at Women’s Health Medical Group to help minimize false results. PapSure® is the only in-office direct visual screening exam that has been approved by the FDA for all women.
What is PapSure?
PapSure® is a visual exam that we perform in our Burleson offices. We use PapSure® in addition to Pap tests to reduce the number of false “abnormal” results. PapSure uses Speculite®, a bright light technology that illuminates the vagina and helps our doctors visually identify any abnormalities. The cells are examined under a blue light that causes any irregular cells to appear white. PapSure® gives us extra confidence when checking the results of your Pap test.
What does an abnormal Pap test indicate?
If your Pap test results come back positive, this simply means we’ve found abnormal or unusual cells on your cervix. It does not necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. Most abnormal results denote cell changes caused by the HPV virus. An abnormal Pap test does require follow-up so that we can ensure you do not have cancer.
Does an abnormal Pap mean I have HPV?
Most abnormal cell changes that show up on a Pap test are caused by HPV. That doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer, however. Most of these cell changes caused by HPV resolve on their own, but certain types of HPV have been linked to cervical cancer. A Pap test is not designed to detect HPV, so at Women’s Health Medical Group we test for HPV in addition to your Pap test. This increases our odds of detecting or preventing cervical cancer.
How serious is an abnormal Pap test?
As mentioned above, there can be various reasons for an abnormal Pap test. In fact, less than 1 percent of abnormal results end in a cervical cancer diagnosis. But abnormal results dictate more attention, just to be safe.
How common is an abnormal Pap test?
An abnormal Pap test is not unusual. In the U.S., over 50 million pap tests are performed each year to screen for cervical cancer. About 5 percent of those Pap tests will come back abnormal with atypical cervical cells. The vast majority of abnormal tests don’t indicate cancer. Of the 3 million U.S. women with abnormal Pap tests each year, less than 1 percent (13,240 cases) will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
If your Pap test shows abnormal results, we’ll probably want to do some more testing after we’ve looked at the type or types of abnormal cells. These will likely be another Pap test and probably a colposcopy. If necessary, we can take a biopsy during a colposcopy.
Do you have any questions about Pap tests and abnormal results? Call us at Women’s Health Medical Group, (817) 346-5336.