What is an abnormal Pap test result?

An ‘abnormal result’ means that that some of the cells taken from your cervix during the test look different than the ‘normal’ cells on your cervix. In NSW, about 5% of Pap test (or Pap smear) results showed some abnormalities.

If you are told that your Pap test result was abnormal, try not to worry. It’s unlikely to mean you have cancer.

In almost all cases, further tests show that the abnormality is not serious. Only about eight in 1,000 tests reveal the kind of cell changes that may later develop into cervical cancer.

What an ‘abnormal result’ means is that some of the cells taken from your cervix during the test look different than the ‘normal’ cells on your cervix.

When you receive your results, make sure you get a clear explanation of the type of abnormality that has been detected.

There are a few reasons that the test may have led to an abnormal result:

None of these mean you have cervical cancer, but they may mean you need to have a follow-up Pap test or treatment.

You can have an abnormal result even if you’ve had the cervical cancer vaccine. The vaccination protects against the most common types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, but not all of the many HPV types that exist.

Your doctor, nurse or community health worker is the best person to explain what you’ll need to do to follow-up your abnormal result to protect your health and avoid cervical cancer.

Abnormal results and pregnancy

It is very uncommon for treatment of abnormal cells to affect your ability to have children. Treatment only occurs when it is absolutely necessary and there is concern about a high-grade abnormality.

If you are considering becoming pregnant and receive an abnormal result, it is recommended you discuss the result with your doctor before you become pregnant.

If you are pregnant when your abnormal Pap result is identified, any treatment will depend on the type of abnormality. Your doctor will be able to explain what treatment is most suitable.

 

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