What Now? Abnormal PAP results

23 10 2013

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For most women, regular PAP tests are a necessary part of screening for cervical cancer. These tests help to detect changes to the cells of the cervix. If abnormal cells are found, it does not necessarily mean you have cancer. The cells are simply indicating that they are changing in a way that could lead to cervical cancer. This is called cervical dysplasia. Your doctor may either watch and wait to see if the cells continue to change or do further testing with a colposcopy or a test for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is a virus that can cause cells on the cervix to become abnormal. In younger individuals, HPV can often be fought off by the body in time completely on its own. This is why watching and waiting is common in those under the age of 30 with low grade abnormal PAP results. If subsequent PAP tests are normal, intervention is not necessary since the body has fought off the virus on its own. In women over the age of 30 or those with high grade abnormal results, the doctor may not wait and rather choose to remove the abnormal cells within a shorter time frame to decrease the risk of cancer. All of these regular tests, procedures, and interventions are finely tuned to decrease the chances of getting cervical cancer.

But can we help our bodies fight off HPV? Especially while we are watching and waiting? Of course! HPV is a virus and there are many ways that we can help boost our immune system to fight this virus. For example…

Folate – Deficiencies of this nutrient may contribute to the development of precancerous lesions and cell changes such as those found in cervical dysplasia. Research is ongoing to find out if adding more folate to an individuals diet can help to reverse the cell changes. Since folate is found in green leafy vegetables, I don’t think we really need to wait for the research to start eating more of these vegetables. We know that green leafy vegetables like spinach are part of a healthy diet.

Green Tea – Green tea has been shown to treat precancerous cells in cervical dysplasia and help to prevent these abnormal cells from becoming cancerous. This is according to a study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention (2003;12:383–90).

Broccoli – Several compounds in broccoli and other vegetables in the same cruciferous family (cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) have been studied to directly target abnormal precancerous cells of the cervix. Include at least one serving of these vegetables per day.

Anti-viral and immune boosting herbs – There are many plants that contain compounds that boost the immune system and help fight viruses. I typically recommend these only after I have a complete picture of your health in case there are interactions. One anti-viral plant, called goldenseal, is known in traditional botanical medicine as “King of the mucous membranes”. Since the cervix is one of the bodies mucous membranes, goldenseal is one plant that can help treat HPV.

 

If you have more questions about this topic or would like help treating cervical dysplasia more aggressively, please consider booking an appointment.

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