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Pap Smear (cont.)

Pap Smear Follow-up

If a woman's Pap smear result is normal, she will continue routine screening.

If the Pap smear result is abnormal, the doctor will recommend repeat testing or more frequent follow-up, depending upon the exact type of abnormality and whether any infection is present. The doctor may choose to do a procedure known as a colposcopy.

  • In this test, the doctor looks at the cervix through an instrument called a colposcope (a lighted microscope) to look for an explanation for the abnormality in the Pap smear finding. It is performed in the office in a manner similar to the Pap smear, but the doctor uses a special viewing instrument that magnifies the appearance of the surface of the cervix to examine the area for abnormalities.
  • The exam is not painful and has no adverse effects. It is possible to perform this exam during pregnancy.
  • If there are abnormal cells on the cervix, the doctor will perform a biopsy (take a sample of the tissue to view under a microscope).
  • In a biopsy, the doctor will take a small sample of the tissue of the woman's cervix to see if cancer cells are present. A biopsy is the only way to determine if she has precancer, true cancer, or neither.
  • Several types of biopsies are performed under different types of anesthesia.
  • To treat precancer tissue or a very early cancer, the doctor may remove the abnormal tissue entirely during certain types of biopsy methods.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/23/2015

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