Don’t Panic About the Pap!
Worried about an abnormal Pap smear result? You are not alone! But I have good news – 90% of abnormal pap smear results are not cancer!
Every week I see women who have done the right thing and taken their regular pap test – and are now terrified to receive an abnormal result.
I put this down to the fantastic level of public awareness we have in Australia about preventing cervical cancer – and this is a good thing, as we have one of the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world.
Over 3 million women will have a pap smear this year – and only about 800 women will be diagnosed with cancer, and most of those will not have had regular pap smears.
So if my abnormal pap smear is probably not cancer, what is it?
- a bit of blood or mucous on the slide
- an inflamed cervix
- an infection (not necessarily an STD)
- HPV and CIN changes – HPV and CIN are the things pap smears are looking for – these things can lead to cervical cancer if left alone. But you have a long time between being detected as having HPV or CIN and cancer (often 10 years or more), and there is very effective treatment available. Many women will not even need treatment – the body can often heal itself, they just need more regular check-ups.
Just because you have an abnormal pap smear, it does not necessarily mean:
- you will have problems having babies
- you have an STD
- you have cancer
- you will need surgery
Many of the changes we detect can heal themselves. If the gynaecologist needs to take a closer look, you may be sent for a colposcopy. At Blackbutt Doctors Surgery, we have Dr Seshu Mandapati performing colposcopies each week.
So don’t panic about the abnormal pap result – talk to your GP. It is probably not cancer.