When a Pap smear detects atypical squamous cells, follow-up testing is required to determine the underlying cause. In most cases, the presence of abnormal squamous cells does not indicate the presence of cervical cancer. However, abnormal Pap results should always be discussed with a medical professional so that an individualized action plan can be created.
Atypical squamous cells can be a sign of:
- HPV (human papillomavirus) infection
- Benign (noncancerous) cellular changes
- Cervical cysts or polyps
- Low hormone levels (in patients who are menopausal or post-menopausal)
Usually, when atypical squamous cells are found, the cell sample is re-analyzed to check for the presence of certain viruses, such as HPV. While having HPV does not necessarily mean that a woman will develop cervical cancer, it does increase her risk of developing the condition, which means that more frequent Pap smears may be necessary to detect abnormal changes should they occur. Additional tests, such as cervical biospies, endocervical sampling exams and colposcopies may also be recommended after an atypical Pap result.
If cancerous squamous cells are detected during a Pap smear, prompt treatment is advised. The earlier that cancer is detected, the more treatment options a patient typically has.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer a comprehensive range of diagnostic tests and treatments that are backed by the latest advances in cervical cancer research. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are continually investigating the newest options for preventing, detecting and treating cancer, and our patients directly benefit from our acclaimed clinical trials.
Medically reviewed by Jing-Yi Chern, MD, gynecologic oncologist
If you’ve recently received abnormal Pap smear results involving the presence of atypical squamous cells, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment with one of Moffitt’s gynecologic oncologists. We welcome patients with and without physician referrals. Virtual visits appointments are available, however, in most cases, a complete exam and evaluation in person will be needed to decide the best treatment.