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Cancer: Cervical & Ovarian Message Board


Cancer: Cervical & Ovarian Board Index


Let's review the whole pap/colpo/leep thing, ok?

[B]Pap smear:[/B] A screening procedure that gives a snapshot (so to speak) of the current state of cervical health. It is NOT diagnostic! It's simply a screening test (think of it as an "early warning" procedure).

[B]Colposcopy with biopsy[/B]: A diagnostic procedure that seeks to discover the EXTENT and severity of abnormalities picked up by pap smear. Think of this as a mapping expedition. Biopsy(s) are taken of abnormal-looking areas. Sometimes the act of biopsy actually clears up the abnormality. Sometimes it doesn't (if the margins are clear - woohoo! if the margins are positive, LEEP or cone biopsy is next step).

[B]LEEP or cone biopsy:[/B] These are both sorta like a combo of biopsy [U]and[/U] treatment. A chunk of the cervix is removed - hopefully getting ALL of the abnormal cells in the process (the "clear margins" thing). LEEPs and CONEs are often done when the endocervical cells are abnormal (these are the cells that line the os and lead into the uterus). A LEEP procedure does not compromise fertility and the cervix fills in the missing tissue over time. MANY repeat LEEP procedures may, however, compromise the cervix.

It is not that unusual for a gyn to combine colpo with LEEP, if the PAP results are serious enough. It can shorten the whole long drawn out (seems like it takes forever!) process.

The very basic problem with the abnormal pap process is that it is most often pushed along by the HPV virus. Many women have repeat colpos and even LEEP procedures over the course of their reproductive lives thanks to this nasty little virus. Sure hope they find a cure or vaccine soon!

Anyhoo, hope this helps explain why an abnormal pap scenario seems to take FOREVER to come to some kind of conclusion and why, even after a LEEP or cone biopsy is done, there is no guarantee that a future pap won't come back abnormal.
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