Abnormal Pap Smear Follow-Ups: What to Expect

Abnormal Pap Smear Follow-Ups: What to Expect

When you get the call that your pap smear is abnormal, it might cause feelings of worry or anxiety. 

Although an abnormal pap smear means unusual cells were detected in your cervix, an abnormal result only means our Women's Health Associates of Southern Nevada, Northwest gynecology team, led by Anita Gondy, MD, Saovaros V. Michaels, MD, and Henry Luh, DO, needs to investigate the results further.

To find out more about why you had an abnormal pap smear result, our Las Vegas, Nevada-based team recommends further testing to learn more about the abnormal cells present in your cervix. Here’s what you can expect to happen next after your pap smear is abnormal.

Why was my pap smear abnormal?

You might have heard an abnormal pap smear means you have cervical cancer. In reality, it’s rare to get a cancer diagnosis after an abnormal pap smear.

Instead, a pap smear usually detects abnormal cells that have the risk of potentially developing into cervical cancer. By detecting these cells early and determining the risk level of your abnormal cells, our team can monitor or remove them to minimize your risk of developing cancer later. 

The next steps after an abnormal pap smear

Once your abnormal pap smear results come in through laboratory testing, our team notifies you as soon as possible about your results and develops a customized follow-up plan. Often, you can expect our team to recommend a procedure called a colposcopy.

Getting a colposcopy

A colposcopy is a minor outpatient procedure similar to getting a pap smear. A colposcopy allows our practitioners to test any abnormal cells in your cervix and learn more about them.

During the examination, our clinicians insert a speculum in your vagina and use a magnifying glass to find the abnormal cells. If any are found, they gently collect a sample from your cervix.

The abnormal cells are then sent off to our laboratory to get more information about them.

Next steps after a colposcopy

After your colposcopy and laboratory analysis, our practitioners review your results with you and come up with a treatment plan. Recommended treatment depends on whether your abnormal cells are at low, medium, or high risk for becoming cancerous.

If your cells are determined to be low risk, our team usually recommends monitoring the cells to ensure they remain low risk. For moderate or high risk cells, our team is more likely to recommend the removal of cervical tissues with abnormal cells.

Most of these can be done as a minimally invasive in-office procedure right at WHASN-NW. Common procedures to remove abnormal cells include the LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) of the cervix, cryosurgery of the cervix, and cold knife conization of the cervix.

For some results, our team might recommend testing to see if you have HPV.

If the pap smear you get at your annual screening exam reveals you have abnormal cervical cells, our team is here to guide you through the process and keep you as healthy as possible. To make an appointment for a pap smear or to discuss an abnormal test result, book an appointment online or call our office today.

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