Why should I have a pap smear?

It is essential to have regular pap smears to rule out any reason for concern. Cervical cancer is preventable cancer which can be diagnosed with a pap smear; therefore it is vital to check for uterine and cervix abnormalities with the help of your gynaecologist annually.

What causes an abnormal pap smear?

An abnormal pap smear is caused by an infection and may be able to indicate cervical cancer. The pap smear results can tell if the cells or normal, abnormal or severely abnormal, however not the cause of the abnormality. The most common cause is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which infects the skin cells of the cervix. Once these cells are infected, the cells begin to change – which is known as cervical dysplasia.

Because the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes abnormal cell changes, some types of HPV have been categorised as the cause of cervical cancer. Therefore, abnormal pap smear results deserve a follow-up consultation with your gynaecologist to plan treatment.

What can be done about the results?

If your pap smear results are abnormal, Dr Tini will advise you to come for a follow-up appointment to discuss your results. If the pap smear is only mildly abnormal, she may choose to repeat the pap smear and test in 6 months’ time. If the pap smear results are severely abnormal, Dr Tini will perform a colposcopy, which will allow her to have a better look at the cells under magnification as well as do a biopsy where she will take a sample of the cells for further testing. Dr Tini may also advise testing for HPV. If you are tested and have HPV, she will be able to tell what type of HPV you have and advise you on treatment and your risks of developing cervical cancer.

1Does an abnormal pap smear mean I have cancer?

No, having an abnormal pap smear does not mean you have cancer. Rather, the test indicates whether or not further investigation by your doctor is necessary.

2Is a colposcopy painful?

A colposcopy is not necessarily painful, but you may feel pressure and discomfort during the procedure.

3Is HPV curable?

While there is no cure for HPV, some strains of the virus go away on their own.