Ask your healthcare provider to
explain the results of the test to you. It’s important not to panic if your healthcare
provider says that your Pap test results are abnormal. This simply means that there
are cells in the cervix that do not appear to be normal healthy cells. Just how abnormal
they are varies. These changes may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
Your healthcare provider may use
the terms atypical squamous cells of uncertain significance (ASC-US) or squamous
intraepithelial lesion (SIL). Another term used to describe these changes is dysplasia.
ASC-US on a Pap smear will usually be rechecked with another Pap test in a year. Another
option is to test for HPV. SIL means abnormal cells were found in the cells taken from
the surface of the cervix. They are typically classified as SIL 1 through 3. The higher
numbers mean a larger number of more seriously abnormal cells. These changes may be due
to a number of factors. The factors may include an infection, inflammation, precancer,
or cancer. CIN3 is the most serious precancer.
If an abnormal growth is confirmed
and is mild, your healthcare provider may simply watch you closely over time. HPV
testing may also be done to see if the problem is caused by HPV infection. You should
have repeat Pap and HPV tests to see if the changed cells return to normal.
If you have a large number of abnormal cells, the next step is a colposcopy. This is a procedure using a special magnifying scope to closely examine the cervix. Or you may have a biopsy. This removes more tissue to be checked for abnormal cells.
In most cases, precancer can be
treated in the healthcare provider's office or in a hospital as an outpatient. This
means you go home the same day. It is rare that a major surgery such as a hysterectomy
is needed for precancer of the cervix.