Ascus Pap means something

What Do Your Pap Smear Results Mean?

A Pap smear can alert your doctor to the presence of suspicious cells on your cervix that may require further testing or treatment. Therefore, it is recommended that you be tested regularly.

What is a pap smear?

A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure used to check for cervical cancer in women. It involves collecting cells from your vagina and cervix - the lower, narrow end of your uterus that's at the top of your vagina.

The Pap smear is usually done in conjunction with a pelvic exam. In women who are 30 years or older, the Pap smear can be combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV) - a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer in some women.

Normal Pap smear results

If only normal cervical cells were detected during your Pap smear, it is considered a negative result. You won't need any further treatment or testing until you are due for your next pap smear and pelvic exam.

Abnormal Pap smear results

If abnormal or unusual cells were detected during your Pap smear, it is considered a positive result.

A positive result does not mean you have cervical cancer. What a positive result means depends on the type of cells found in your test.

Here are some terms your doctor might use and what your next course of action might be:

Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS)

One abnormal result you may get is called "atypical squamous cells of indefinite meaning" called ASCUS). Squamous cells are thin and flat and grow on the surface of a healthy cervix.

In the case of ASCUS, the Pap smear shows slightly abnormal squamous cells, but the changes do not clearly suggest the presence of precancerous lesions.

In fact, while an ASCUS Pap smear result may sound alarming, it is considered only slightly abnormal and is actually the most common abnormal Pap smear result you can get. Indeed, there cannot be an immediate cervical cancer risk associated with your ASCUS Pap smear.

The most common causes of ASCUS Pap smear results are non-cancerous (benign) conditions, such as infection or inflammation. These conditions can cause uterine cells to appear abnormal. Eventually, however, most cells return to normal over time.

In some women, an ASCUS result is based on changes in cervical cells caused by HPV infection. The liquid-based Pap smear test can be used by your doctor to reanalyze the sample to check for certain high-risk HPV types - these high-risk HPV types are known to promote cancers such as cervical cancer.

In the absence of high-risk viruses, the abnormal cells that are found as a result of the test are not of much concern. If there are any viruses of concern, you will need to do more testing.

In most cases, these cervical changes do not precede cervical cancer, but require further monitoring and possible treatment to prevent an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Squamous intraepithelial lesion

This term is used to indicate that the cells taken from the Pap smear may be precancerous.

If the changes are minor, it means that the size, shape, and other properties of the cells suggest that if precancer is present, it will likely take years for them to develop cancer.

If the changes are profound, there is a greater chance that the lesion will develop into cancer much sooner. In this case, additional diagnostic tests are required.

Atypical gland cells

Gland cells produce mucus and grow in the opening of your cervix and in your uterus.

Atypical gland cells can appear abnormal, which increases the fear of cancer or cancer.

More tests are needed to determine the source of the abnormal cells and their significance.

Squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma cells

This result means that the cells collected for the Pap smear appear so abnormal that the pathologist is almost certain that cancer is present.

"Squamous cell carcinoma" refers to carcinomas that occur in the flat surface cells of the vagina or cervix. "Adenocarcinoma" refers to cancer that occurs in glandular cells. If such cells are found, your doctor will recommend an immediate evaluation.

Follow-up for an abnormal Pap smear

Follow-up depends on the type of abnormality seen. Sometimes only retests are required. In other cases, your doctor may do a procedure called a colposcopy using a special magnifying instrument (colposcope) to examine the tissues of the cervix, vagina, and vagina.

Your doctor may also take a sample of tissue (biopsy) from areas that appear abnormal. The tissue sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis and final diagnosis. Based on these results, you may need treatment to remove abnormal cells. After treatment, you need to continue follow-up for cervical cancer screenings.

A word from Verywell

Early detection of cervical cancer with a pap smear gives you a greater chance of a cure. Stay informed about your cervical health and keep up with your Pap smears. Another tidbit is remembering not to have sex, shower, or use tampons or other vaginal hygiene products 48 hours before your pap smear, as these can give false results.