Abnormal Pap Smears and Colposcopy Beaumont TX
A Pap test, or Pap smear, is part of a woman’s annual wellness exam. The Pap test involves extracting a small sample of cells from the cervix. These cells are examined, in a lab, for abnormal cell changes. The Pap test is used in diagnosing cervical cancer and human papilloma virus, or HPV.
An abnormal Pap smear doesn’t necessarily indicate a condition like HPV or cervical cancer. Pap smears detect any changes within the cervical cells, not just cervical cancer. Abnormal Pap smear results may indicate other conditions such as inflammation or infection. False positives are also possible from Pap smears, however further testing is recommended to protect your health whenever the Pap smear is abnormal.
Types of Pap Smear Results
There are three categories of results: normal, unclear and abnormal.
A negative, or normal, result occurs when no changes to the cells of the cervix have been detected. This is a healthy diagnosis, however, the patient should continue to receive regular Pap smear tests.
Unclear results are not uncommon, and they simply refer to an inconclusive finding that the cervical cells may or may not be abnormal. This may mean that too few cells were collected during the test. It can also indicate a disease or infection as well as changes caused by hormones or inflammation. The results may be influenced by other factors too, such as having had sexual intercourse, using a douche or applying vaginal cream in the two days prior to the Pap smear testing.
Abnormal, or positive, results typically indicate changes to the cervical cells, which may be caused by a number of conditions. They range from mild changes, which may be the result of an infection, to moderate or severe changes, which are a sign of potentially serious pre-cancerous or cancerous tissues.
Follow-Up for Abnormal Pap Smears
The doctor will make recommendations for additional testing or treatment based upon the patient’s age and type of dysplasia, or abnormal cells which are found in the cervix.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)
LEEP is a treatment for abnormal cells on the cervix. LEEP — short for loop electrosurgical excision procedure — removes abnormal tissue by cutting it away using a thin wire loop that carries an electrical current. It may be performed after abnormal cells are found during a Pap test, colposcopy, or biopsy. During the procedure, the abnormal cells are removed to prevent the development of cervical cancer. Wire loops attached to an electrosurgical generator cut away the affected tissue, causing the cells to heat and burst. The tissue removed is sent to a lab for further evaluation and to ensure that the abnormal area has been fully removed.
The procedure is done with a colposcope, a microscope that can help identify malignant lesions on the vulva. It is usually performed as a follow-up to an abnormal pap smear. The exam itself is similar to a pap smear in that a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the cervix is visible. The colposcope is situated so that the physician may view the area in question with a magnification of 10 to 40 times its normal size. If any abnormal cells are noticed, a biopsy of the tissue may be done.
A colposcopy is a safe procedure with few complications. Light bleeding or discharge for up to a week after the procedure is normal.
Colposcopy is usually done when a:
- Pap test is abnormal
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) test is positive for certain subtypes that place you at an increased risk for developing cancer
This procedure can be used to:
- Help diagnose cervical cancer or precancerous changes
- Give more information about abnormal cells found on a pap smear
- Find the location where a tissue biopsy should be done
- Monitor treatment of abnormalities of the cervix
- Allow a visual exam of the cervix, vaginal walls, or vulva
Contact the doctors at CWHBC to learn more about obstetric & gynecology services where we proudly serve Beaumont,TX.