I Got an Abnormal Pap Smear: What Should I Do?

The pap smear is an exam that tests for cervical cancer, and something that every woman should start having at age 21. Your cervix is the lower part of your uterus. It offers a pathway for your menstrual flow each month, and it changes shape and expands to allow for pregnancy and childbirth. 

This test is important because it allows your gynecologist to detect precancerous cells before they have the chance to turn into cervical cancer, whereas if you don’t have the test, cervical cancer typically develops without being found until its later stages. 

Dr. Kevin Hooker and the caring team at Lake Havasu OB/GYN Care perform your pap smear comfortably and carefully, and answer any questions you might have, including what the next steps should be if your test reveals abnormal results. Since he offers advanced gynecological services, you’re in the right place, no matter what test or procedure is necessary.

What happens during my pap smear?

First, you get comfortably situated on the examining table and place your feet in stirrups. Then Dr. Hooker gently inserts a speculum into your vagina, which opens it so that he can see your cervix and get a sample of cells for testing. He uses a long thin swab to take the sample. The process is quick and painless.

The link between cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV)

It’s typical when you get your pap smear for Dr. Hooker also to test for HPV, or human papillomavirus. Two strains of it have been linked to 70% of cervical cancers

Your cell sample is then sent to a lab for analysis.

How concerned should I be if my pap smear results are abnormal? 

The good news is that if your test comes back showing any abnormality, Dr. Hooker can remove the portion of your cervix where these cells are. And remember, these are precancerous, not cancerous cells, so he addresses the issue before it becomes a serious concern. The removal of precancerous cervical cells stops cancer in its tracks over 95% of the time

Sometimes, however, pap smear results are not conclusive, and that’s when Dr. Hooker recommends a procedure called a colposcopy. It’s similar to a pap smear, as it also involves having a speculum inserted into your vagina. He then uses a device with a bright light and a lens on it, called a colposcope, to look clearly and closely at your cervix. 

Next, Dr. Hooker swabs your cervix with a solution that exposes suspicious areas. He takes a tissue sample, or biopsy, if anything looks suspicious, and then that’s sent to a lab to be tested. 

Cervical cancer prevention strategies

The pap smear is the single most important preventive step you can take to avoid cervical cancer. It’s also a good idea to get tested for HPV, and if you’re under age 45, you should be vaccinated for it. Practicing safe sex is also essential.

Finally, don’t skip your well-woman exams with Dr. Hooker. He checks in with you about every aspect of your gynecological health then, and will advise you about how often you should get a pap smear, depending on your age and health history. 

Call our office at 928-683- 1668 to schedule your pap smear, or book an appointment online, and please note, we offer early morning appointments for your convenience. 

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