Abnormal Pap Smear Definitions

ASCUS (Abnormal Cells of Undetermined Significance): some of the cells from the outer cervix (or vaginal wall) do not appear normal. These changes can be caused by inflammation, infection, radiation changes, vaginal thinning, or a very early sign of a cervical cancer. Considered the least abnormal of pap smear results.

LSIL (Low-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion): mildly abnormal cells are on only the surface layer of the cervix (or vaginal wall). These changes are most often associated with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) but can be an early sign of a cervical cancer. Considered a mild abnormality.

HSIL (High-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion): a severe abnormality that has a higher risk of developing into a cancer, but this is not a cancer. These results often are associated with Human Papilloma Virus.

AGUS (Atypical Glandular Cells of Undetermined Significance): abnormal glandular cells found on the surface of your cervix (or vaginal wall). Glandular cells are generally found inside the lining of the cervix or uterus. If you have a history of endometrial cancer, these changes are concerning for a recurrence.

Inadequate: there were not enough cells shed from the cervix or vaginal wall for the pathologist to make a determination. Unfortunately, this can happen for a variety of reasons, and there is no way for the practitioner to tell if enough cells are present at the time the pap smear is performed. This does not indicate any type of abnormality, and is usually consistent with “negative.”