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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Should I be concerned by my PAP test result?

    I'm 35 and a smoker.

    In 2005 my pap came back with abnormal cells, it was repeated 6 weeks later and the same so I had a colposcopy which detected I was CIN2. I had the leetz procedure a couple of months later. I've been on yearly paps since and most were low grade. Last years pap was possible low grade so was pretty happy that it was possibly gone or at least going. With all my previous paps I waited approximately 3 weeks for the results.

    I had my yearly pap last week and I received a call yesterday, exactly one week after the test. My pap now shows high grade changes and they want me in for another colposcopy (which they recommended anyway because I had been consistent low grade) in approximately 6 weeks

    So given it's gone from 3 weeks for results to yesterday's semi urgent and very apologetic phone call within a week, should I be worrying about this pap? I'm trying not to be but when results come back that quickly, it's kind of hard not to be
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • ACCF’s Vision is to protect and enhance women’s health by eliminating cervical cancer and enabling treatment for women with cervical cancer and related health issues, … View Profile

    Thank you for your question. After sharing your question with one of our Medical Advisory Panellists, they have advised that you shouldn't be concerned  about the length of time to get results but that it would be worthwhile to go and have investigation and treatment for your abnormal Pap test sooner rather than later for peace of mind. He also advised that smoking increases risk of cancer of the cervix (and in fact MOST cancers) because it affects the immune response so for lots of reasons, it would be great if you could try and stop.

    We hope this is helpful.

  • Dr David Moore

    Gynaecologist, Gynaecologist - Infertility (IVF) Specialist, Obstetrician

    David received a solid foundation to training in tertiary obstetric units and has developed skills in the management of complex and high-risk pregnancies and deliveries. … View Profile

    Hi there,

    The time frame for your follow-up colposcopy is entirely appropriate and you needn't be concerned.  As you have been having regular Paps (albeit with low-grade abnormalities), it is likely that a high-grade lesion, if present, hasn't been around very long.  The lag time between high-grade pre-cancerous lesions and actual cancer is relatively long - measured in years in most cases, so having a colposcopy within 6 weeks or so is relatively quick.

    But, as above, it is definitely advisable to stop smoking - especially from the point-of-view of reducing your risk of cervical cancer.


  • Dr Finikiotis is a gynaecologist but will see early pregnancy patients until the 3 rd Month. View Profile

    As well as the colposcopy and biopsy, it would be prudent to request a "HPV DNA test."which is done using the same brush as a pap smear. This tests whether you are carrying any of the 13 forms of the Human Papilloma Virus which are the cause of over 98% of cervical cancers. Although you are likely to test positive, if you test negative it is reassuring and most likely your abnormal smear will revert to normal before you would need repeat surgery. The test costs around $116 out of pocket but if you can provide proof of a biopsy showing Cin 2 or worse in the past,there is a rebate of around $50. This is the most accurate predictor of CIN and of test of cure after surgery. In May of 2017, we will stop doing pap smears in Australia and the government will replace them with funded HPV DNA testing as the initial screen. If your test is positive,the laboratory will then look at the sample for precancerous cells. If you test negative, you won't need to do it again for another 5 years unless you have a significant past history of cervical precancer or you simply choose to have more frequent screening .

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