Ask an expert
Question

20 Aug 2010

Please put my mind at rest
I read yesterday that although pap smears are an excellent screening test they are not always 100% accurate. The following statements have me concerned:
- Cervical cancer may be missed as the cells are so distorted that the pap has a ''normal'' result.
- Cancer that starts in the cervical canal (not squamas cell) does not go through the same progression.
- A pap smear never excludes cancer (if you have symptoms)
I had 2 paps this year as I had not had one in a while (and I had a few symptoms e.g. spotting after sex), but they were normal...and my cervix according the the gynae appeared perfectly healthy. How do I know something wasnt missed? Please assist. Kind regards,
Answer 308 views
Expert
GynaeDoc
gynaedoc

01 Jan 0001

It is true that pap smears are not 100% accurate. What you have read refers to a cancerous lesion on the cervix where the cells are so distorted that they 'appear'normal. If this were the case, there would be an obvious growth on the cervix.
The non-squamous cancers are much much rarer than the squamous ones and, because they are in the cervical canal , may be missed with a pap smear, though often some of the cells are picked up.
The chances of these situations is very small.

Best wishes
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
34% - 9265 votes
No
66% - 17847 votes
Vote