Causes for an abnormal Pap smear

Ultima Vez Modificado: 16 de marzo del 2003

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Could my abnormal Pap smear result be due to having intercourse within 48 hours of my exam? 

Answer

Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

While I cannot comment on the cause of your abnormal pap test without knowing the exact reading of the Pap, here is a list of some things other than cervical cancer, which can cause an abnormal result:

  • cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (otherwise known as dysplasia or CIN)
  • atrophic changes (due to low estrogen states like in menopause or pregnancy)
  • condyloma (HPV infection)
  • inflammation
  • regeneration after injury or surgery (metaplasia)
  • vaginal cancer
  • vulvar cancer
  • other genital tract cancer (endometrium, fallopian tube, ovary)
  • previous radiation therapy

In addition, some "abnormal" results do not have a known cause, are not serious, and go away on their own. You should abstain from intercourse for 48 hours before any future Pap tests.


News
Viral DNA-Based Testing Can Triage Women With Abnormal Pap

Mar 29, 2013 - DNA-based testing with Hybrid Capture 2 assay is more accurate than repeat cytology in identifying women with cervical cancer when their initial Pap smear showed atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance, according to research published online March 28 in The Cochrane Library.



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