Every woman should start getting Pap smears at age 21. While most of these tests come back normal, some women have an abnormal Pap test. The experienced team at Progressive Care for Women in downtown Chicago takes a proactive and preventive approach to medicine and provides expert care when your routine test comes back abnormal. To schedule your Pap smear or get answers about an abnormal Pap test, call the office today or book online.
A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. Starting at age 21, every woman should start getting a Pap smear. During the test, your specialist gently swabs cells from your cervix and has them sent out for testing to look for abnormalities. Pap smears are not painful.
The frequency of your Pap smears depends on your personal and family history. Most women between the ages of 21 and 65 only need to have a Pap smear every three years. However, if you have a history of an abnormal Pap test or family history of cancer, you may need more frequent testing.
While most test results are normal, some women have an abnormal Pap smear, which requires further evaluation to better understand the cause of the abnormal results.
An abnormal Pap smear can mean a number of things. While cervical cancer may be your first thought, your abnormal test doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. Many abnormal Pap smears are caused by the human papillomavirus infection (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease.
Some strains of HPV increase your risk of cervical cancer, which are referred to as high-risk strains. During your Pap test, your specialist at Progressive Care for Women may also conduct an HPV test to look for these strains, which may indicate the type of additional testing or treatment you need after an abnormal Pap smear.
If your Pap smear is abnormal, your specialist at Progressive Care for Women conducts a colposcopy, in which they use a special magnifying tool to take a closer look at your cervical tissue. Your specialist may also conduct a biopsy for further evaluation of the tissue during the procedure.
Based on the results of your colposcopy, your specialist determines the next step in your treatment, which may include procedures to remove precancerous or cancerous cells.
An abnormal Pap test may lead to anxiety, but the team at Progressive Care for Women can provide the additional testing you need to allay your concerns. Call the office today or book an appointment online.