When the results of a Pap test show signs of cervical cancer, the next step is a colposcopy to closely examine your cervix, remove abnormal tissues, and take a biopsy. The experienced doctors at Hill Country OB/GYN perform your colposcopy in the comfort and privacy of their offices in Austin and Dripping Springs, Texas. If you have questions about your health or if it’s time to schedule an annual well-woman exam, call the office closest to you today.
+ What is a Colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a procedure that gives your doctor at Hill Country OB/GYN a magnified view of your cervix. The colposcope is positioned outside your cervix, then your doctor looks through the binocular-type device to examine your cervix.
During a colposcopy, if your doctor visualizes changes that may be suspicious, a biopsy will be performed.
+ When Do I Need a Colposcopy?
Colposcopies are most frequently performed when Pap test results indicate precancerous or cancerous changes in cells. The doctors at Hill Country OB/GYN may also recommend colposcopy if you have abnormal bleeding or symptoms suggesting a problem with your cervix.
+ Why Do I Need a Pap Test?
A Pap test, or Pap smear, screens for cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). When you get a Pap test, your doctor painlessly removes a small amount of tissue from your cervix, then sends the sample to a lab where it’s examined under a microscope.
+ What Does a Positive Pap Test Mean?
If your Pap test is positive, it means some type of abnormal cells were detected. The lab technician grades the cells based on their severity, then sends your doctor at Hill Country OB/GYN a report. Cervical changes included on the report include:
- Cellular changes indicating an HPV infection
- Mildly abnormal cells due to HPV; often resolves on its own
- Moderate to severe changes likely to be associated with precancerous changes or cancer
Abnormal results don't always cause for alarm. In most cases, your body naturally clears away HPV infections, so they don’t pose a health concern. If you have mild changes due to an HPV infection, your doctor may recommend waiting a few months, then having another Pap test or an HPV test.
When your original Pap test shows moderate to severe changes, or your follow-up Pap is still positive, your doctor performs a colposcopy.
+ How are Abnormal Cells Removed During a Colposcopy?
Your doctor at Hill Country OB/GYN removes abnormal tissues from your cervix using one of these techniques:
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): thin wire loop carrying a mild electric current removes thin layers of tissue
- Conization or cone biopsy: removes more cervical tissue to eliminate all abnormal cells
- Ablative treatments: cryotherapy freezes abnormal cells, while laser therapy destroys them with heat
Pap tests screen for possible problems. You need a biopsy taken during a colposcopy to diagnose the underlying cause of your abnormal test results.
To schedule a Pap test or your annual well-woman exam, call Hill Country OB/GYN office today.