Pap smears collect cells from the cervix so they can be tested. Abnormal cervical cells can indicate many different health conditions. Cervical dysplasia, cervical cancer, yeast infections, and sexually transmitted diseases can all have an effect on the cervix, causing the cells to grow abnormally or change as the condition progresses. If a pap smear comes back abnormal, depending on the specific abnormality, the doctor may want to perform a colposcopy to better evaluate the problem or may just want to repeat the pap smear at a later date.
Cervical dysplasia affects the surface of the cervix. It is a precancerous condition that causes the cells of the cervix to begin to grow abnormally. If left untreated, the abnormal cell growth can eventually lead to cervical cancer. If abnormal cells continue to grow and spread deeper into the canal, the entire cervix may need to be removed to stop the spread of the cells and the possible risk of cancer. Fortunately, it usually takes years to develop from dysplasia to cancer, so Craig Ranch OB-GYN monitors cervical dysplasia with a procedure called colposcopy. They are one of the few groups in the United States with the latest technologically advanced colposcope called DYSIS. This new technology has been shown to be more accurate for diagnosing cervical dysplasia and keeps a visual record of the cervix for comparison with future colposcopies.
Frequency of pap smears has been debated over the years and there is still not a clear consensus, but often depends on the patient’s age, pap smear history, and risk factors. The guidelines recommend that women get a check up every year with pelvic exam every year. Pap smears should be performed every 1 to 3 years, and is determined by your individual circumstances.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!