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HSR Research > ASCUS Pap smear

ASCUS Pap smear

Sometimes women are groundlessly worried about an ASCUS pap smear. Pap smear is a cytological test aimed to detect different abnormalities in cervical cells. During this test, cells are taken from the surface of the cervix and cervical canal and then they are sent to a laboratory for a microscopic examination. A pathologist evaluates the state of the collected cells and classifies the results of analysis according to one of the commonly used systems for reporting cervical cytology.

At the end of the 20th century specialists in cervical pathology began to widely use the Bethesda system for classifying Pap smear results. This system provides several categories for the results of cytological analysis: negative Pap smear, benign or reactive cellular changes, ASCUS Pap smear, ASC-H, AGUS, LSIL, HSIL, carcinoma, squamous carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. It is rather easy for an inexperienced person to get confused by all these terms, however, this system allows doctors to determine an adequate management for their patients.

The abbreviation ASCUS stands for Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance. ASCUS Pap smear means that there have been found some changed cells, but there is no disease evidently present. In this case cells have some deviations from normal appearance, but they have no obviously pathological features. Results of ASCUS often reflect an unclear character of cellular changes and the difficulty to determine a disease.

There may be different causes of an ASCUS Pap smear. Sometimes it is due to the presence of cell changes caused by sexual relations, use of tampons, vaginal creams or jellies before a Pap smear test. In some cases the cause is an inflammation or an irritation associated with a bacterial or viral infection. At the same time, atypical cells may progress to mild cervical lesions, although such cases are rare. In about 80% of women with an ASCUS Pap smear the test becomes normal in a few months.

The diagnosis ASCUS is not very dangerous and usually doesn't require any treatment. Most often the management of women with ASCUS involves regular follow-up with Pap smears. In a majority of cases the Pap smear returns to normal, but if an ASCUS Pap smear persists and is detected during repeated tests, it is recommended to undergo a colposcopy and an HPV test in order to evaluate the risk of progression to dysplasia. 

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HPV
Cervical Dysplasia
Genital Warts
Plantar Warts
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Dr. Joe Glickman, Jr., M.D.

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