An abnormal Pap smear can be nerve-racking, but it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Factors such as inflammation or normal cell changes can cause abnormal readings. The experts at The Center for Gynecologic Oncology guide you through the process of screening and diagnosis in the most supportive environment. Emery M. Salom, MD, Jacob Tangir, MD, and Jonathan Black, MD, MPH will be there all along to monitor and care for you. Call the center to make an appointment at its Hollywood, Miramar, Plantation, or Hialeah, Florida, location to explore the cause of your abnormal Pap smear.
Dr. Salom and Dr. Tangir perform Pap smears during routine pelvic exams to screen for cervical cancer.
While you lie on the exam table with your feet resting comfortably in stirrups, the doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina and take a small swab sample of cells from the outside of the cervix. He sends the swab to the lab to check for abnormal cells. The lab indicates whether the results are negative or positive for abnormal cells.
If the results of your Pap smear come back positive, it means some of the cells were abnormal. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. Abnormal cells could be a sign of:
Abnormal cells can be one of the following:
Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance: These cells indicate slightly abnormal squamous cells that may or may not be precancerous. These cells could be an indicator of the HPV virus or other viruses that can lead to cancer. If a virus is present, you’ll need further testing. If your doctor doesn't find a virus, your results are unproblematic.
Squamous intraepithelial lesion: These cells are likely precancerous, and further testing will be required.
Atypical glandular cells: If glandular cells appear abnormal, you’ll probably need additional testing to find the source of these cells.
Squamous cell cancer or adenocarcinoma cells: These cells almost always indicate cancer.
If the results aren’t troublesome, Dr. Salom or Dr. Tangir continue to monitor changes in your cervix. If the results are suspicious or questionable, they may have you come back for a colposcopy: A closer examination of the cervix using a speculum and a special lens. If the doctor notices anything suspicious, he takes a biopsy to check for cancer.
If your doctor can’t see a suspicious area with the colposcope, he might take an endocervical scraping. He’ll:
If precancer or cancer are suspected, Dr. Salom or Dr. Tangir can perform a cone biopsy. During a cone biopsy, he removes a cone-shaped section of tissue in the area where cervical cancers are likely to start. Your doctor sends the sample to the lab for evaluation. Sometimes this procedure removes all of the precancerous cells in the process, too.
If you’ve received irregular Pap smear results, feel free to call to schedule an appointment with the experienced gynecologic oncologists at the center.