It’s a sinking feeling to hear that your Pap smear results came back abnormal. But it’s more common than you might think. With 50 million Pap smear tests performed each year in the United States, about 5% — or 2.5 million — are abnormal.
These diagnostic tests can tell you a lot about your health, but it doesn’t give you the whole picture. If your Pap smear results are abnormal, you need to discuss with your OB/GYN to learn what this may mean and what your options are.
For women in San Antonio, Dr. Houmam Al-Hakeem at Westover Hills Women's Health can tell you more about your next steps.
An abnormal Pap smear result means there’s a presence of unusual cervical cells, which can be caused by any number of conditions. While cancerous cells are a possibility, there can be other reasons for an abnormal Pap smear result:
The cervix is lined with squamous cells. Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) are the most common reason for an abnormal Pap smear result. ASCUS typically require more testing but are almost always a sign of an HPV infection. In some cases, these atypical cells indicate cancer.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) can be contracted by both men and women and is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. There are 14 confirmed strains of HPV that can cause ASCUS, which may lead to cancer. Two strains are thought to be responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers.
Squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL) describe abnormal squamous cells. There are two categories of SIL: low-grade SIL or high-grade SIL. HSIL can lead to cancer.
Further tests are needed after an abnormal Pap smear. At Westover Hills Women’s Health, your testing may include:
The Pap smear is one of the most effective cancer screenings that a woman over the age of 21 can get. With early detection, the survival rate for women with invasive cervical cancer is as high as 92%.
If you live in or around San Antonio, Dr. Al-Hakeem and the team at Westover Hills Women's Health offer the OB/GYN services, including Pap smears, you need to stay confident in your health.
Book an appointment online or call one of our two convenient locations to learn more about Pap smears and cancer screening.