Inflammation on your Pap smear

Last Modified: March 16, 2003

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Could you tell me what it means if you are told your Pap smear had benign cellular changes/inflammation? I was put on Flagyl for 7 days, and told to have another smear in 3 months. Is this common and is it serious? 

Answer

Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

The diagnosis on your pap smear is very common. While "inflammation" may be a sign of infection (such as sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia), it usually is just non-specific (meaning not due to any identifiable infection).

Treatment with Flagyl (which treats bacterial vaginosis) is a common first step to try to clear up the inflammation so that a Pap test may have a clearer reading. Patients should return for another Pap in 3 months as your care provider suggested for confirmation.

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