What Does It Mean When Your Doctor Says “Your Pap Smear Is Abnormal”?

A Pap Smear is a test done on women by doctors to screen them for cervical cancer. Your doctor will get samples of your cervical cells and send them to a lab where trained specialist look at your cervical cells under a microscope to see if they see any early cancer changes.

When your doctor tells you that your Pap Smear was “abnormal”, it could mean various things. It could mean that your results came back as one of the following:
1. ASCUS: Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance
2. LSIL: Low grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions
3. HSIL: High-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions
4. AGUS: Atypical Glandular cells of Undetermined Significance
5. Inflammation: This may indicate presence of white blood cells which may indicate that you have a type of infection
6. Hyperkeratosis: This means that there are dried skin cells on your pap smear. This may be due to the use of cervical caps or diaphragm

Based on your specific pap smear result, your doctor may advise you to either get a repeat pap smear in 4 to 6 months or tell you to have a special test called a Colposcopy.

A colposcopy is a way for your doctor to directly look at your cervix closely under a magnifying scope. Your doctor may use saline to clean your cervix. Then, your doctor will apply vinegar solution to your cervix. This will help your doctor visualize your cervix better. If he or she feels that there are any abnormalities on the cervix, a biopsy (a tissue sample) will be taken. The sample will then be sent to a special lab for them to be analyzed.

There are some things you can do to help “heal” your cervix and protect yourself from future abnormal pap smears.
-Do not smoke
-Eat healthy: green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, tomatoes and dark yellow or orange vegetables, such as carrots and squash. There is little evidence to support this, but it is thought that these foods are high in antioxidants and folic acid which help your body fight against the virus which causes abnormal changes in your cervix.
-Practice Safe Sex

Read article by Dr. Pandya to learn more about Cervical Cancer and Cervical Cancer Prevention click here
For a patient handout on Abnormal Pap Smears go to Familydoctor website
Click here to learn more about Colposcopy