Abnormal pap smears are common and frightening, but most women with abnormal pap smears do not have cancer. Most patients have a pre cancerous condition called “dysplasia” that can progress to cancer if it is not treated. Dysplasia is usually caused by a virus, the HPV virus.
We evaluate your cervix with a microscope called a colposcope to determine where the abnormal cells are coming from and how severe they are. When a serious precancerous abnormality is found in the cervix, the preferred treatment is a LEEP procedure, Loop Electrode Excision Procedure. It is done in the office under local anesthesia, and sedation if you desire.
A wire loop with electricity in it is used to excise the tissue that contains the precancerous cells. The tissue is evaluated by a pathologist to confirm that all of the abnormal cells were removed, and to determine the depth of involvement.
As the cervix heals you may experience a heavy discharge for several weeks. We will repeat your pap smear in 6 months time to ensure that the cells are gone. Since dysplasia is caused by a virus, it can come back even years after treatment, and so pap smears are necessary.