Dr N discusses Abnormal Pap

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Dear Doctor N- I had an abnormal Pap. My doctor wants to follow it, this makes me nervous. Can’t I just treat it? I’m so worried about Cancer that I cant enjoy life or sex while I wait the six months to see if it will get better. signed panicked

Dear P- I know an abnormal pap smear is nerve wracking, but there are times it will clear up on its own. Remember a Pap smear is a sampling of the skin cells of the cervix, which is where cancer develops. Like any skin cancer , it is a slow process. It is much like a freckle or abnormal skin mole that the body has to repair. If the spot is too big or to close to cancer like cells there is a procedure where the cells can be frozen or cut out called a LEEP. This is fairly aggressive for mild changes or mild dysplasia which is precancer. 80-90% of the time , the body will notice these abnormal changes and correct them. The cells of the cervix turn over every 3 months so if the changes are not too extensive, a healthy immune system will take care of it. You do not feel symptoms and again, it is like a freckle so it should not affect periods or intimacy. It is hpv, virally, caused so it is an STD. But the virus may not be infective at this point. If your provider says it is mild, I agree, waiting is a good ideal unless you are not planning children any more – then at times a hysterectomy is considered. Ask questions, find out the extent of the lesion seen on colposcopy and just make sure to be good about your followup paps. Usually every 6 months. Good Luck Dr N