Colposcopy is standard follow-up to abnormal Pap smear
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Monday, April 30, 2012
4/30/12 at 3:36 AM
Dear Doctor K: I had an abnormal Pap smear. Now my doctor wants me to have a colposcopy. What can I expect during this procedure?
Dear Reader: Pap smears help determine if you might have cancer, or a precancerous condition, of your cervix. When a Pap smear raises such suspicions, the next step is a colposcopy.
Colposcopy takes about 15 to 30 minutes and doesn't require anesthesia. During the procedure, your doctor examines your vagina and cervix using a portable instrument with a light and magnifying glass.
Colposcopy lets your doctor look directly at your cervix and the doctor can remove any suspicious-looking tissue. Your doctor may ask you not to take aspirin for a week before the colposcopy, so that you won't have excessive bleeding if tissue is removed. Don't douche or use vaginal creams or medications the day before the procedure, since that can make it harder for the doctor to get a good look at your cervix.
It's important to let your doctor know if you may be pregnant. Also, tell your doctor about all of the medications you take. Finally, don't schedule the procedure to occur when you are likely to be having your monthly period.
If the doctor sees any areas that look like they might be a precancerous condition, or cancer itself, the doctor will remove a small piece of the tissue (called a biopsy). The doctor may use a local anesthetic to numb the biopsy area. But you may experience some mild cramping or a little discomfort.
Any tissue removed during the procedure will be sent to a pathologist for examination. The tissue is treated with special chemicals and stains, and then examined under a microscope. The specialist will notify your doctor if any cancerous changes are discovered.
You can return to your normal activities right away. It is a simple procedure, and if it discovers a precancerous condition, that condition can be treated and cancer prevented.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106