Interpreting an abnormal pap smear

Cervical cancer can be deadly, but there’s a way to detect abnormalities before cancer develops. OB/GYNs recommend that women have routine pap smears, which allow doctors to detect abnormalities of the cells in the cervix. A negative pap smear result means that no abnormalities were found, while a positive result means that further testing might be needed. At Riverside Community Hospital, you’ll find the answers you need from our compassionate team of expert OB/GYNs.

Human papillomavirus
In most cases, an abnormal pap smear does not indicate the presence of cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus is the most common cause of abnormal test results. Women who test positive for HPV will receive personalized guidance from their doctors on what they can expect.

Squamous intraepithelial lesion
When this term appears on a lab report, it means that the cervical cells have the potential to be precancerous. Women can watch this featured video by an OB/GYN at Riverside Community Hospital. She explains how the abnormalities can be graded.

Low-grade abnormalities indicate that, even if cancer does develop, cancerous changes likely won’t be detected for years. High-grade abnormalities indicate that cancer might develop more quickly.

The grade of the abnormalities informs the doctor’s recommendations regarding monitoring and treatment.

Atypical glandular cells
The glandular cells are found at the opening of the cervix and inside the uterus. Atypical glandular cells warrant further testing, as it won’t be clear from the pap test results whether they might be cancerous or not.

Women with atypical glandular cells may be asked to have a colposcopy and biopsy. A colposcopy is a visual exam of the cervix performed with the help of a magnifying lens. A biopsy is the removal of a small sample of tissues for testing in a lab.

At Riverside Community Hospital, your health is our highest priority. Our OB/GYNs in Riverside deliver the superior care that you deserve because we genuinely care about your quality of life. Call (951) 788-3463 to request a referral to an OB/GYN.

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