Abnormal pap smear and Colposcopy
A pap smear is a screening test used to detect abnormal cells in the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer. In addition, HPV (Human papillomavirus) testing can also be used for cervical cancer screening. Abnormal pap smears are very common, but most of the time, these changes will NOT lead to cervical cancer. Most of the abnormal cells are related to HPV exposure. It is estimated that 70-80% of the population will be exposed to HPV at some point in their lives. The abnormal cells often will go away without any treatment. However, your doctor might advise you to undergo a colposcopy for further evaluation. In other cases, repeat testing might be recommended, depending on a woman’s age. A colposcopy is an office procedure which uses a microscope to take a closer look at the cervix. If any abnormal areas are discovered, biopsies might be taken. A small sample of tissue is taken and sent to the lab for analysis. If moderate or high grade dysplasia (precancerous changes) are identified, treatment might be suggested.