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Pap Smear (cont.)

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What are the risks of having a Pap smear?

There are absolutely no known medical risks associated with Pap smear screening. (However, there are medical risks from not having a Pap smear.)

How is a Pap smear read (analyzed)?

Pap smear analysis and reports are all based on a medical terminology system called The Bethesda System. The system was developed (at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland) to encourage all medical professionals analyzing Pap smears to use the same reporting system. Standardization reduces the possibility that different laboratories might report different results for the same smear. Standardization and uniform terminology also make Pap smear reports less confusing for the clinicians who request the tests and for their women patients.

The Bethesda System was the outcome of a National Cancer Institute workshop that was held in 1988 in an effort to standardize Pap reports. The guidelines address many aspects of Pap smear testing and its results. In 2001, the guidelines were revised and improved. Acceptance of the Bethesda reporting system in the United States is virtually universal.

The major categories for abnormal Pap smears reported in the Bethesda Systems are as follows:

  • ASC-US: This abbreviation stands for atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. Under the old system of classification, this category was called atypical squamous cells, just ASC. The new system requires the reader to pick one of two choices to add at the end of ASC: ASC-US, which means undetermined significance or ASC-H, which means cannot exclude HSIL-see below.
  • LSIL: This abbreviation stands for low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. Under the old system of classification, this category was called CIN grade I.
  • HSIL: This abbreviation stands for high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. Under the old system of classification, this category was called CIN grade II, CIN grade III, or CIS.

The word "squamous" describes the thin, flat cells that lie on the surface of the cervix. "Intraepithelial" indicates that the surface layer of cells is affected. A "lesion" means that abnormal tissue is present. These important terms - LSIL and HSIL - are described in greater detail below.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/21/2014

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Pap Smear - Results Question: What was the outcome of your abnormal Pap smear results?
Pap Smear - Testing Question: How often do you get a Pap smear?
Pap Smear - Indications Question: Do you have a regular pap smear? Have they revealed any abnormalities?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/pap_smear/article.htm

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