Health + Wellness

Did You Have An Abnormal Pap Smear Test? Here’s What Comes Next

pap smear test

Doctors recommend pap smear tests for anyone sexually active. While the schedule varies based on your age and the results of your last test, it’s important to keep up with the visits. It’s always a relief to hear that the results of a pap smear are normal but occasionally, the results show that there are some abnormal cells on the cervix. If that happens to you, don’t start worrying. It’s important to know what those results mean and how your doctor might proceed. 

RELATED: 7 Myths About Cervical Cancer You Shouldn’t Believe

What Do Abnormal Cervical Cells Mean?

As you may already know, a pap smear is a procedure where a doctor collects cells from the cervix so they can be examined under a microscope in a lab.

During this examination, the cells can either appear to be normal or abnormal. Simply finding abnormal cells, however, doesn’t automatically mean that you have cervical cancer. It just means that your doctor will need to do further tests to see what’s going on. These tests are determined by the type of abnormal cells that are found.

Typically, there are four kinds of abnormal cells: atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS), squamous intraepithelial lesions, atypical glandular cells, and squamous cell cancer or adenocarcinoma cells.

The first type is a sign that the squamous cells that are found on the cervix’s surface appear abnormal.

In the second type, the cells appear to have been changed and this may indicate the presence of precancerous cells.

The third are cells are present on the cervix and the uterus so the issue may be more widespread. With the fourth type, your doctor will be more certain about the presence of cancer.

RELATED: What do Your Pap Smear Test Results Mean?

What Your Doctor Could Do Next

If you have ASCUS, then your doctor will recommend testing the cells for the presence of HPV. A negative result indicates that nothing else needs to be done. A positive one will mean starting an appropriate monitoring program to ensure that the strain of HPV you have doesn’t put you at risk for cervical cancer. With the other types, the process is a little more involved. 

To move forward, your doctor will need to know if the precancerous cells are low or high level. Low-level precancerous cells are less likely to

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