The abnormal pap test or the pap smear test is a procedure to find if there are any abnormal cell changes in the cervix. The cervix lies in the lower part of the uterus and top of the vagina. If the test result is positive, it means that some unusual cells are getting developed in the cervical region. These are the pre-cancerous cells that develop cervical cancer.
The test reflects the chances of cervical cancer by the spread of Human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that is linked to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer caused by the HPV can be mild to severe.
Who needs an abnormal pap test?
Several studies suggest all women over 21 years of age to undergo a pap test once in three years. It is better to have the pap test if the person is:
- Over the age of 21.
- HIV positive.
- Have a weak immune system after chemotherapy or an organ transplant.
Also, if the person looking for the pap test is over the age of 30 and hasn’t undergone a pap test, it is advisable to have the test to look for the HPV infection. The HPV infection may higher the chances of cervical cancer. So it is better to stop way before it gets affected.
What are the possible abnormal cells found on the test?
The most common abnormal cell types that can be found on the test are as below:
Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS): These are the squamous cells developed in the healthy cervix. It is very thin and flat. ASCUS cells are the most common ones in the findings of the Pap test. ASCUS is one of the causes of HPV infection.
Squamous intraepithelial lesion: These are the pre-cancerous cells developed for many years. There are two types associated with it. The first one is high grade, where the cells develop into cancer sooner. The second one is low grade, where the pre-cancerous cells slowly develop the cancerous cells.
Atypical glandular cells: These are the glandular cells that produce mucus in the cervix and uterus. These cell changes indicate higher chances of cancer or pre-cancerous cells getting developed.
Squamous cell cancer or adenocarcinoma cells: These cells are one of the major cancer agents. These cells are very thin and flat accounting for nearly about 80 percentage causes for cervical cancer.