Pap smear test result
Pap smear test result describes the condition of the cervix based on the data of cytological analysis. Pap smear test includes collection of cells from the cervical surface and cervical canal and their microscopic examination in the lab. This test is widely used by health care providers because it is a relatively simple and reasonably priced procedure that helps evaluate the state of the cervix. It is an important tool to detect precancerous conditions of the cervix and plays a great role in cervical cancer prevention.
Pap smear test result is considered to be normal (negative) if all cells have normal size and shape. The result of the test is abnormal (positive) if some cells with deviations from normal size and shape have been found. In order to describe the degree of abnormality special terms are used: inflammatory changes, low grade or high grade intraepithelial lesions. Abnormal Pap smear test result does not always mean that the woman has cancer.
In case of a bacterial infection cervical cells often have signs of inflammation and look abnormal. After an adequate treatment of such infections Pap smear results usually revert to normal. A frequent cause of an abnormal Pap smear test result is human papilloma virus infection (HPV). HPV is able to induce epithelial cells changes, called dysplasia, which can lead to cancer within several years. For this reason, HPV-infected women are at a high risk of cervical cancer.
The most dangerous Pap smear test result is the detection of cancerous cells. If cancerous cells are detected only in the upper layer of the cervix, this condition is classified as pre-invasive cancer. Invasive cancer is diagnosed when tumor extends beyond the epithelium and spreads to other layers of the cervix or other organs. This condition is very hard to cure and very often it leads to the patient’s death.
The management of patients with abnormal Pap smear test results depends on the detected cell changes. When the changes are related to the inflammation, the Pap smear is repeated within several months. If necessary, the doctor prescribes an appropriate treatment. If low grade changes have been found, the Pap smear is repeated within several months or colposcopic examination may be required. The Pap smear test result suggestive of high grade cervical lesions is always the indication for colposcopy and biopsy.