The number of women who develop cervical cancer has dropped dramatically since the 1970s. That’s when regular pelvic exams and Pap smears became a part of a healthy woman’s wellness routine. Widespread use of the HPV vaccine is another factor that’s lowered the rate of cervical cancer. An abnormal Pap smear is the first indication that cancer cells may be present. Early intervention to treat abnormal pre-cancerous cells is the most effective means of avoiding the disease. The gynecologists at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, NY encourage all women of age to make a regular habit of getting these important exams to prevent serious consequences. Call today for yours.
A Pap smear is a test to screen for cervical cancer. The test also detects changes in cervical cells that signal the possibility that cancer may develop in the future. Also called a Pap test, it involves collecting cells from your cervix, usually done in conjunction with a regularly scheduled pelvic exam. An abnormal Pap smear doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, however.
You and your Queens doctor at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center determine when and how often you should begin having Pap tests. It’s recommended that young women start getting regular pelvic exams and Pap smears about the time they begin menstruating. The test prevents future complications and helps you build a long-term relationship with your gynecologist.
Possible Causes of an Abnormal Pap Smear
When unusual or abnormal cells are found in your Pap smear, your Medex specialist refers to it as a positive result. There are several possible causes of an abnormal Pap smear. These include:
• Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. Slightly abnormal squamous cells, which are the cells that grow on the surface of the cervix, are often a sign of an infection. An infection may be caused yeast, bacteria or protozoa. They also may be the result of the papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can cause cervical cancer.
• Atypical glandular cells. Your Pap smear may also reveal an abnormality in your glandular cells, which are cells that grow in the opening of your uterus.
• Squamous cell intraepithelial lesions. These are cells that may be precancerous. They’re considered low-grade or high-grade, depending on how much the cells have changed.
• Squamous cell cancer. When cancer cells have been detected, it means further tests and treatment are required. Women who obtain regular Pap smears are unlikely to get this result.
Your doctor may tell you that your Pap smear results were unclear or unsatisfactory. This means the lab was unable to get a clear reading, which is usually caused by not having enough cells in the sample. If results are unclear, you may be asked to come in for a repeat test.
The Next Step after an Abnormal Pap Smear
Further testing is recommended following an abnormal Pap smear. Your Queens doctor may recommend an HPV test to look for the presence of HPV cells that have been associated with cervical cancer. You may undergo a test called a colposcopy, which is similar to a Pap smear. It allows your doctor to examine the cervical cells more closely under a lighted magnifying tool. Your doctor may remove a small sample of tissue for a biopsy.
Most women who have an abnormal Pap smear don’t have cancer. Cervical cells go through a lot of changes before they become cancerous. A Pap smear is a way to identify these changes so that you get treatment early, when it’s most effective. Early detection and intervention also keep you from developing other serious complications.
Treatment for Cervical Cell Abnormalities
Treatment for any abnormality in the cells of your cervix depends on the severity of the diagnosis. Your doctor may recommend watching and waiting if changes are considered low to moderate. A follow-up Pap smear in six months may be recommended to ensure there haven’t been any further developments.
Moderate to severe cell changes may indicate a higher risk of developing cervical cancer. You may need treatment to destroy or remove abnormal cells. Your gynecologist may decide to perform a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), which involves using a heated wire loop to remove abnormal tissue. Another method of removing abnormal issue is through conization, a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which tissue is removed in a cone-shaped piece.
Protecting Yourself from Cervical Cancer
The earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Routine Pap smears are recommended annually for women between the ages of 21 and 65. Certain risk factors increase your risk of developing cervical cancer: such as:
A weakened immune system from HIV, an organ transplant or chemotherapy
Immunizations, vaccines and safe sexual practices also improve your odds of receiving normal Pap smear results. Follow a healthy lifestyle consisting of maintaining the proper weight for your body type, eating a nourishing, low-fat diet and exercising regularly. These habits build your immune system to protect your body from gynecological disorders.
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Licensed by the state of New York, Medex is an Article 28 diagnostic and treatment center. Our physicians provide comprehensive care for patients of all ages in the Forest Hills, Queens area, for over 15 years. Start receiving expert care now by calling or scheduling an appointment online with one of the skilled specialists.
Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center
111-29 Queens Blvd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Phone: (718) 275-8900
Fax: (718) 275-0430
Monday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Tuesday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am -6:00 pm