Every year, thousands of women learn that their routine Pap smear was abnormal, meaning it detected irregular cells in their cervix. If your Pap smear returned an abnormal result, you might be feeling worried or uncertain about what to do next.
At Abortion Care, our team of certified OB/GYNs guides women through getting the help they need after an abnormal Pap test. Learn about what an abnormal Pap smear can mean and what follow-up care you need.
What an abnormal Pap smear result means
If your Pap test returned abnormal results, this means it detected some type of irregularity or abnormality in the cells of your cervix. Cervical irregularities can have a number of causes. Rest assured that most commonly abnormalities are benign, while occasionally irregularities mean you have precancerous cervical cells.
Many women worry that getting an abnormal Pap smear means they have cervical cancer. In reality, it’s rare to receive a diagnosis of cervical cancer after a Pap smear detects irregularities.
Types of cervical irregularities
Your abnormal Pap smear can indicate several types of potential cervical abnormalities. We’ll explain your results and answer your questions during your visit.
The most common abnormality detected is atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS). ASCUS results mean the test detected some type of abnormality or change in your cervical cells, but are usually not precancerous.
Another relatively common result you might receive is low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL). LSIL indicates mild abnormalities and isn’t typically precancerous.
Less typical abnormal results include high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL), atypical squamous cells (ASCH), and atypical glandular cells (AGC). These abnormalities indicate you’re at higher risk for developing or already having precancerous cells in your cervix.
Occasionally, abnormal Pap smear results are inconclusive. In these cases, you usually need to get a follow-up Pap smear to determine what, if any, abnormal cells are present.
Next steps after an abnormal Pap smear result
If your Pap smear has atypical cells, our doctors schedule an appointment to discuss the results. Your follow-up care depends on the type of abnormalities your Pap smear indicates.
In some cases where testing indicates low-grade abnormalities, our doctors continue to monitor you to see if there are changes. You might need to get a follow-up Pap smear more quickly that the typically recommended timeline.
Other times, our doctors recommend you have a procedure called a colposcopy to learn more about the type of irregularities present in your cervix. The doctor uses a colposcope to view your cervix and determine if you have any clusters of cellular irregularities.
If our doctors find anything unusual, they collect a small sample of the tissue and send it for a biopsy. Depending on the results of the biopsy, they’ll recommend continued monitoring of your cervix or further treatment.
We provide the support you need
Whether you’re due for a Pap smear soon, or you need follow-up treatment after an abnormal result, our team at Abortion Care in Somerset, New Jersey, can ensure you always get the care you need. To make an appointment, call our office at (732) 408-6182.