an abnormal Pap smear mean I have cancer of the cervix?
Not necessarily. While an
abnormal Pap smear may be the sign of cancer, many different changes
on your cervix can cause an abnormal Pap smear. Pap smears can be
abnormal if the cervix is inflamed or irritated. This can be caused
by in infection of the cervix, douching, menopausal changes, or
irritation. The cervix may also be going through some changes called
dysplasia. Dysplasia means the cells on the Pap smear look abnormal
under the microscope. Dysplasia isnít the same thing as cancer but
may lead to cancer if not treated.
Why do I need
Because your Pap smear was
abnormal, more information is needed. An abnormal Pap smear is a
general sign that something may be wrong. Further tests will be
needed to show what (if anything) is actually wrong. You may need
another Pap smear or a colposcopy.
What is a
A colposcope is a special
instrument that shine a light on your cervix and magnifies it so
that it can be seen better. If the doctor sees an area that
doesnít look normal, he will take a small piece of tissue from
that area. This is called a biopsy. The tissue sample will be
examined under a microscope. Having a colposcopy feels similar to
having a Pap smear but takes a little longer. Some women have some
cramping and bleeding during or after a colposcopy. We recommend
that you take Advil or Tylenol prior to the exam.
What are my
Your treatment options
depend on the cause of the abnormal results. If the problem is a
minor infection, it often is treated with medication. If the
abnormal Pap smear is caused by changes in the cells, the affected
areas of the cervix may need to be removed. There are several kinds
of treatment to remove abnormal tissue from the cervix. The surface
of the cervix may be frozen in a procedure called cryosurgery.
Another method called LEEP uses a tiny electrical wire that acts
like a very sharp scaple to remove the abnormal areas. Lasers may
also be used to destroy the abnormal areas.
after I have been treated?
That depends on what
abnormalities are found and how they are treated. In general, most
women who have an abnormal Pap smear need to have pap smears more
often for a while after they have been treated. The doctor will let
you know how often you will need to have Pap smears and/or