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Date of last update: 10/14/2017.

Forum Name: Gynecology

Question: Abnormal pap with negative HPV, can it be cancer?

 cgntx - Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:48 am

I just received an abnormal pap smear result along with a negative HPV result. My doctor just says, come back in 6 months. Can there be reason for concern with an abnormal pap even with a negative HPV test, or does the negative HPV indicate that the pap results were not a precancerous risk? I really appreciate having another opinion.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:57 pm

User avatar Hello,
Abnormal cells on a pap test can be a temporary condition. This is why they ask you to return in six months. Professionals do not become alarmed with the first abnormal pap and most women get a normal test the next time after the temporary condition has had time to clear up.

There are various types of cells found with abnormal Pap tests and your doctor could tell you which type was noted. One that is not necessarily associated with HPV is ASC (Atypical squamous cell) Very often you have what is called ASC-US means ASC with "uncertain significance" meaning they don't know why some of the cells have changed or what impact it will have on you. If they saw a type that was more commonly associated with cancer, they would have most likely advised you to have a follow-up colposcopy to determine for sure.

Hyperkeratosis is a finding of dried skin cells on your Pap smear and this is usually evaluated after six months or so.

There are other types too and this is how the decision is made to have you wait or take more immediate action. The six month return is very often followed by normal testing. My guess is your type was one without a high likelihood of cancer.

HPV can be of several types and only some are associated with cancer, but it is not the only cancer-related condition so even if HPV is negative, other abnormal cells may be present.

Try not to worry. If there was a problem, these things are slow-changing and the six month wait does not put you in danger. It is hard to put it out of your mind, however. That can be good in that it can help you remember to see your doctor as requested for follow up in six months.

Good luck

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