My Story – Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer: Pap Smear Uncertainty

Fight Like a Girl As I reported in the June 20, 2014 post, my gynecologic oncologist (surgeon) performed my six-month post-hysterectomy pelvic exam on June 19 and said that all looked well. However . . .

because I told him that I’d been having a light, clear discharge since undergoing vaginal radiation (brachytherapy) in January and February, he took a Pap smear while I was in the office—even though Paps often show ambiguous (false positive or negative) results and are not relied on as definitive diagnostic tools in themselves.

Yesterday, while on vacation in Seattle, I received a call from the doctor’s office. His assistant said the Pap results showed no human papillomavirus (HPV), an organism that is spread by sexual contact and can lead to cancer. But the report did show “Epithelial Cell Abnormality; Atypical Glandular Cells of Undetermined Significance (AGUS).” This was unwelcome news.

So, I am scheduled for a colposcopy (from the Greek word kolpos, referring to the vagina and/or womb, + –scopy, examination with a magnifying instrument) in the doctor’s office on July 9. If he finds a “lump or bump,” he will biopsy it. Then I’ll have to wait again for more news.

Colposcopy

Note that most of the images and articles about colposcopy that I found on a quick search today are not specifically related to women who have undergone hysterectomy, and most show or mention organs that we “hystersisters” no longer have. In our case, the colposcopy, like the Pap smear, is done in the area of the vaginal cuff incision.

I admit I have mixed feelings about the need for this test (see Resources below), but I’ve come to trust my doctor’s judgment—and I do have continuing vaginal discharge, which is a worrisome nuisance.

Trying not to be concerned is difficult, but I am distracted with preparing to return home tomorrow from our 10-day trip to Vancouver and Seattle. I will report the results of my colposcopy next week.

In the meantime, happy upcoming Fourth of July to my fellow Americans. And happy belated Canada Day to my host Canadians.


Resources

Highlighted/underscored text, images, and media contain links to external resources for further education, empowerment, and encouragement. 

The stories, information, and resources on this site are intended to supplement—not replace—the advice of your clinical team.

Articles

About.com Video: Getting a Colposcopy Exam

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) – Colposcopy

American Family Physician – Evaluation and Management of the AGUS Papanicolaou Smear

Cigna – Colposcopy and Cervical Biopsy

For Women’s Eyes Only – Debates about Pap Tests

Google Images – Colposcopy

Health Communities – Colposcopy and Cervical Punch Biopsy*

*Source: The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Medical Tests; Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Editor; Updated by Remedy Health Media (see Books below; this is a consumer reference)

HysterSisters – Colposcopy after a hysterectomy?

Mayo Clinic – Colposcopy

MD Consult Preview: Colposcopy of the Vagina**

**Source: Colposcopy Principles and Practice, 2nd edition; Barbara S. Apgar (see Books below; this is a clinical reference)

MUM.org: Museum of Menstruation & Women’s Health – This site is “odd, funny and well-researched” according to the New York Times

New York Times Health Guide:

– Cervical Biopsy

– Colposcopy-Directed Biopsy

– Pap Smear

Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) – Choosing Wisely: Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question

WebMD – Colposcopy and Cervical Biopsy

WomensHealth.Gov:

– Pap test

– Pap test fact sheet

World Health Organization / International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – Chapter 7: Colposcopic assessment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 

Books

Colposcopy Principles and Practice, 2nd edition; Barbara S. Apgar (a clinical reference)

The Johns Hopkins Consumers Guide to Medical Tests: What You Can Expect, How You Should Prepare, What Your Results Mean; Simeon Margolis (a consumer reference)

General References

Medical Dictionary – The Free Dictionary

mediLexicon.com – Medical Dictionaries, Drugs & Medical Searches

Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary


For more information about my personal story with uterine cancer and also about diagnosing and treating this disease with surgery and radiation, please see the Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer page for links. 

And stay tuned for more information about this very important topic.

2 thoughts on “My Story – Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer: Pap Smear Uncertainty”

  1. Good luck, and I pray all will turn out clear. Maybe you just have a cyst in there, and they can drain it. I pray it is something simple and benign such as that.

    Like

    1. Thanks so much, Theresa.

      When the doctor examined me on June 19, he didn’t see anything at all. He did the Pap because I reported having a light discharge, although he had said Paps and other tests are no longer done routinely and often show false results (positive or negative). So I was surprised when his office called and scheduled the colposcopy.

      I’ll discuss all this with him on Wednesday and report back. At the moment, I’m confused and concerned, although the Pap did not show any definite malignancy.

      Stay tuned!

      Like

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