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One helpful method in maintaining vaginal health is the use of regular pap smears. A pap smear collects cells from the neck of the uterus (the cervix), where cervical cancers develop. We remove cells from the surface and send them to the lab for evaluation.
Nearly 95% of all pap smear results come back normal. The pap test, in its current form, is largely responsible for reducing the annual death rate from cervical cancer by about 70%. Have your pap smear done regularly to prevent potential health risks.
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“Within Normal Limits/Negative” – This indicates that no abnormal cells have been detected.
“Atypical Squamous of Undermined Significance” – This indicates that there are cells present that are slightly abnormal in appearance, but do not necessarily represent a significant abnormality. You may be encouraged by your care provider to repeat your Pap in a few months or possibly have a Colposcopy (see below).
“Low Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion/Mild Dysplasia/CIN I” – These reports indicate a very early change in the cells that suggest a very early pre-cancerous lesion. Dysplasia is a technical term that means an abnormal development of the tissue. Dysplasia is considered premalignant condition. This type of condition may go away without treatment in up to 50% of patients. The cells also suggest the presence of Human Papilloma Virus. This is a virus that plays a role in the development of cervical cancer. You may be encouraged by your care provider to repeat your Pap in a few months or possibly have a Colposcopy (see below).
“High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion/Moderate or Severe Dysplasia/CIN II or CIN III” – These reports indicate that the lab has detected cells which are suggestive of the presence of pre-cancerous lesion that should be treated. Only a few of these lesions will disappear without treatment, and some will go on to become cancerous if not treated. These lesions tend to grow slowly and can take years to develop. Most clinicians will recommend a Colposcopy and a biopsy. Potential treatment will depend on the biopsy results. Your care provider will explain your options when the results return.
“Atypical Glandular Cells of Undetermined Significance” – This indicates the presence of abnormal cells higher in the cervical canal. Often, these changes are associated with pre-cancerous conditions. A Colposcopy is recommended to fully evaluate the cervix.
“Carcinoma-in-situ” – This term simply means a cancerous lesion that is confined to the surface and has not spread into the surrounding tissue or other areas. Your care provider will decide the best form of treatment. There is a very high rate of cure of this type of lesion.
“Colposcopy” – A colposcope is an instrument that allows a care provider to inspect the cervix under high magnification. Very small abnormalities can be seen. A biopsy to rule out a more serious process and to treat the lesion may also be performed. These are relatively minor procedures and are performed in our office and do not require hospitalization. If cancer is detected, your care provider will discuss the type and extent of the disease with you. Even in patients who have cancer, there is a high rate of complete cure. Prompt treatment and closely following your care provider’s recommendations are vital.
“High-Risk HPV Test” – An HPV test is collected much like a Pap smear. The HPV test determines which type, if any, of HPV virus(es) may be present and causing an abnormal Pap smear. The HPV typing determines whether the patient has a virus that is more or less associated with cervical cancer.
“HPV Vaccination” – The HPV vaccination is recommended for all women between nine and 26 years old. It is a series of three injections, given over six months time. The HPV vaccination protects against the four most common types of HPV and has shown to decrease the incidence of cervical cancer by 70%. Contact your care provider for counseling and scheduling.
An annual pelvic examination that includes a Pap smear is one of the best defenses against all forms of cervical cancer or pelvic disease. Whenever possible, schedule your examination around the middle of your menstrual cycle. Please avoid douching or tampons within 72 hours prior to your examination. Tell your care provider about any pain or unusual conditions you may have noticed since your last exam. If you should experience any symptoms, consult your care provider promptly.