The pap smear is a screening test for abnormal cells on the cervix or vagina. Named for the inventor of the special stain, Dr. Papanicolou, this test has saved millions of lives and detected cervical cancer in its earliest stages. It is obtained by using a soft brush and spatula on the cervix or vagina to collect the microscopic cells.
Precancerous cell changes, called dysplasia, are where there are changes in the cells that may develop into cancer. Pathologists rate the degree of abnormality, and group them into low grade dysplasia and high grade dysplasia. Another category of mildly abnormal cells is called ASCUS- Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance.
If your pap is abnormal, your practitioner will recommend further evaluation called a colposcopy and biopsy. Most low grade dysplasia will resolve on its own and your practitioner will want to monitor them. More severe abnormalities will require treatment to remove the abnormal cells.
Medical Disclaimer: The information provided in the Contemporary Women’s Care website should be relied upon for medical education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the independent judgment of a health care provider. The appropriateness of a course of treatment for a patient may vary from the medical information provided herein due to individual conditions and/or complications.