Abnormal Pap Test - What Happens
The cervix contains two kinds of cells:
rectangular-shaped columnar cells on the surface of the cervix and in the
cervical canal; and flat, scalelike squamous cells on the surface of the
cervix. Columnar cells are constantly changing into squamous cells
in an area of the cervix called the
Abnormal Pap test results can be caused by infection,
which leads to cell changes in the
transformation zone of the
cervix . Pap test results often return to normal when
the cells have returned to healthy growth or after an infection has been
treated or has resolved on its own.
In some cases, untreated
cervical cell changes that cause abnormal Pap tests may progress to
precancerous or cancerous stages. Certain high-risk types of the
human papillomavirus (HPV) have been linked to the
cervical cancer. But changes in cervical cells usually
progress slowly and take many years to become cancer cells. Treatment can
remove or destroy these cells before they become cancerous.
Regular Pap test screening can detect cervical cell changes
- Minor cell changes often go away without
- Early detection of precancerous cell changes or cervical
cancer usually makes a complete cure possible.
- If a high-risk type
of HPV is diagnosed, more frequent Pap tests or other testing (such as
cervical biopsy) may be needed for further
Cervical polyps are unrelated to cervical cancer, but
they may be found and removed at the time of a pelvic exam and Pap test.