Five Signs You Should Get a Second Opinion on Your Pap Smear Results
Pap smears are a routine procedure for any woman over the age of 21. Every three years, your gynecologist takes a sample of cells from your cervix and sends them off for testing. This exam gives a pathologist an opportunity to examine these cells for signs of cancer.
The hope is that the pathologist will find no evidence of abnormalities or cancer. However, if the results are unclear or come back indicating that some of the cells show abnormalities or are cancerous, you must decide whether to rely solely on the guidance of your gynecologist in determining your next steps or whether to seek a second opinion on the test results.
When it comes to a potential cancer diagnosis, your doctor will not frown upon your decision to seek a second opinion. Additionally, although a second opinion may seem unnecessary because your doctor has been working with you for years, there are a few signs that you should consider seeking a second opinion.
- Your results come back as unclear, and your doctor advises that no additional testing is necessary. With unclear results, it is always advisable to conduct additional tests to clarify the results to the extent possible.
- The test results come back as abnormal and your doctor tells you no further testing is necessary and to simply return for a test at your next annual visit. While your doctor may believe the results are no cause for alarm, a second opinion can give you additional peace of mind.
- Your results come back as abnormal and your doctor suggests conducting a LEEP, or a procedure designed to both remove a questionable area in the cervix and provide more cells for testing. Seeking a second opinion before moving forward with a more invasive procedure is always recommended.
- Your test results come back as cancerous. Do not panic – pap smears can generate both false negatives and false positives. If your doctor is confident in the results but you are not, take the opportunity to make an appointment with another doctor. Test results can be inaccurate for many different reasons and retesting could provide the true results.
- Your doctor performed the cell collection using the traditional pap smear procedure, which involves scraping cells using a wooden spatula. The newer liquid-based procedure has proven to be more accurate, so regardless of the results of the first test, a follow-up test with a doctor using the liquid method may be a good idea.
Whether or not you seek a second opinion on test results, getting tested regularly is crucial to detecting and treating cervical cancer early. If you developed cervical cancer following an “all clear” from your doctor, consult with an experienced cervical cancer misdiagnosis attorney to discuss how to protect your rights.