Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What should I expect during my cytopathology follow up?"
I am a 28 year old woman and my doctor asked that I come in after he got my pap results. I'm afraid this is bad news. What should I expect to hear?
You are right that probably something turned up on your pap smear. Many doctors will ask patients to come into the office if there is something to discuss; if the results are totally normal, many will simply send a letter. However, there are many possible findings on a pap smear, so you will not need to worry excessively at this point. Occasionally, for example a vaginal infection will be detected on a pap smear; as this needs to be treated, doctors will sometimes ask you to come in in order to get prescriptions. Regarding the explicit purpose of a pap smear, which is to screen for cervical cancer, several results are possible. Occasionally, cells with minor atypical features may be detected; usually in this case your doctor will just recommend that you repeat the pap smear. If they are slightly more atypical (meaning higher risk of cancer) then the recommendation may be the same, but they may want you to repeat the pap smear sooner. If the cells are very atypical, then the usual recommendation is to have a colposcopy, which is a special magnified examination of the cervix to look for areas that could be concerning for possible cancer.
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