Pap Tests Can PIck Up Infections Too


Most women worry about their pap smears showing cancer. We worry the most about a pap that shows high grade squamous intraepithelial neoplasia (HGSIL), but of women who have the low grade form, LGSIL about a third will still have serious precancer. And pap tests do show more than just cancer or precancer, they can help figure out infection or precancer. If you have culture tests, often they are the best check of infection. There are ways to detect infection, including tests on the pap cells themselves, or on the liquid that the pap cells are suspended in after collections. So if you get a pelvic exam, find out what types of infection tests. Years ago the only time we could identify an infection would have been to culture for it. Now tests of the organism with tests called PCR are actually done. With these PCR tests, technically we cannot say if it is still an active infection, or a newly treated infection, but eventually all tests go to negative if some one is treated. Infections with organisms other than HPV viruses do not produce cancer. Most physicians will suggest treating most infections reported out on pap smears in patients who also have symptoms. When pap smear tests show an organism, even if you don’t have any symptoms, it’s not unreasonable to treat if you have had chronic infections in the past, but actually not really necessary to treat.. So that after a pap test, if you test positive for yeast infection or bacterial infection it might be a reason you may get a call for an evaluation, or just a bit of vaginal cream. The parasite trichomonas may be identified on pap, and most gynos will recommend that you treat it if you are found to have this infection. Herpes infections are more likely to be located on the external tissues and much less likely to infect the cervix. However a herpes infection that does infect the cervix can be picked up on pap smear. Gonorrhea ,Chlamydia, and Syphllis are not reliably picked up on pap smear testing, and standard tests for these diseases needs to be performed. 

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