WHAT IS A PAP SMEAR?
A Pap smear (Pap test) is a screening test performed to detect the presence of (or potential of developing) cervical cancer in women. During this outpatient procedure, your clinician will use an instrument called a speculum to open the vagina, and will then gently scrape cells from the opening of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus). These cells will later be examined under a microscope to check for abnormalities.
The Pap test is typically performed within the context of your annual gynecological exam, often in conjunction with a pelvic exam and a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common STD (sexually transmitted disease) that has the potential to cause cervical cancer in some women. The recommended guidelines as to how often a Pap smear should be performed vary depending upon age, medical history, and risk factors; however, it is generally agreed that Pap smear testing should begin no later than age 21.
At OBGYN on the Park, our highly regarded team of board certified Obstetricians/Gynecologists will take the time to ensure that you are fully informed about the interpretation of your Pap smear results, as well as your options for follow-up testing and treatments. From the comfort of either of our two convenient office locations (Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY), we are able to offer uniquely flexible scheduling options to ensure your that healthcare needs are efficiently fulfilled in a warm, welcoming environment.
ABNORMAL PAP SMEAR RESULTS
A ‘positive’ Pap smear result indicates the discovery of abnormal or unusual cells, such as:
- Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance (ASCUS): the thin, flat cells that grow on the surface of a healthy uterus are referred to as ‘squamous’ cells. When Pap smear results indicate the presence of ASCUS, this does not necessarily mean that there are precancerous cells. In most ASCUS cases, your clinician will reanalyze the sample to check for the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV). If no viruses are detected, patients generally do not need to be concerned.
- Atypical Glandular Cells: glandular cells grow in the opening of the cervix and inside the uterus, and are responsible for the production of mucus. Should the glandular cells appear atypical, further testing will be required to determine the source of the abnormality and its significance.
- Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion: this Pap smear finding indicates that the cells collected may be precancerous and will require additional diagnostic testing
- Squamous Cell Cancer or Adenocarcinoma Cells: this finding signifies the near certain presence of cancer in either the squamous or glandular cells and will immediately require further evaluation and treatment
FOLLOW-UP TESTING AND TREATMENT
Abnormal Pap smear results typically require additional follow-up testing. Your OBGYN on the Park treatment provider will determine the appropriate test(s) to perform depending upon your previous history of Pap smears, the specific results of your most recent Pap smear, and any factors that predispose you to the development of cervical cancer.
Follow-up testing may include one or more of the following procedures:
- Colposcopy and Cervical Biopsy: during a colposcopy, a low-powered magnifying device (colposcope) is utilized to magnify the cervix and uterus, enabling your clinician to find, photograph, and then biopsy (take samples of) any abnormal tissues
- Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP): the LEEP harnesses the power of an electrical current to help diagnose and treat abnormal cervical cells. During this 20-30 minute outpatient procedure, your doctor will inject a local anesthetic into the cervix before employing a thin wire loop electrode to transmit a painless electrical current. This current will be used to excise the targeted cervical tissue and to rapidly heat the abnormal cells, causing them to burst. The excised tissue will then be sent to the lab to ensure the complete removal of the affected cells, and to provide a more precise assessment of the abnormal area. Following the LEEP, a topical solution or ball electrode may be used to stop any bleeding, and you will be able to resume your normal daily activities shortly thereafter.
- HPV test to check for the presence of the HPV virus types most likely to cause cervical cancer
Contact OBGYN on the Park
At OBGYN on the Park, we take pride in providing a superior level of patient care and clinical expertise in a compassionate and comfortable environment. Our exceptional staff members are experts in the field of Obstetrics/Gynecology and all our physician are faculty members at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. As a patient at OBGYN on the Park, you will experience an unparalleled level of attentiveness and responsiveness—we will always make time to thoroughly address every question and concern you might have, and will work tirelessly to ensure that your experience is a positive one.
Our multidisciplinary approach involves cooperative collaboration with your primary care physician and a network of highly esteemed specialists (when necessary) in order to create a customized treatment plan that meets your unique obstetric/gynecological concerns. If you would like additional information about abnormal Pap smear results, and the necessary follow-up testing or treatment, please contact OBGYN on the Park today. We look forward to speaking with you, and to scheduling your initial appointment with one of our board certified physicians.