Atypical glandular cells are the body’s early cancer warning system. If you have had a Pap test and atypical glandular cells are found, the next step is additional testing. However, if the pathologist or doctor does not read your test correctly or there is no follow-up when atypical glandular cells are found, you may develop a preventable cervical cancer. Early detection of cervical cancer can save fertility, and more importantly, save lives. Consult with a compassionate attorney if your Pap test was read incorrectly.
What are Atypical Glandular Cells
Atypical glandular cells are simply cells that do not look normal on the Pap smear. They are often called “atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance.” Glandular cells are found in the thin tissue layer making up the cervix’s inner canal, as well as in the uterus. The changes found in these cells could indicate a precancerous condition or, in rarer circumstances, actual cancer.
According to a study published in the February 2016 edition of the BMJ—formerly the British Medical Journal—1.4 percent of women diagnosed with atypical glandular cells had cervical cancer detected within six months.
That means that while a finding of atypical glandular cells is not going to result in a cervical cancer diagnosis in the short term for most women, it is a possibility. Women who have atypical glandular cells are at greater risk for developing cervical cancer over the next 15 years post-abnormal cell discovery.
Follow-up Testing for Atypical Glandular Cells
The follow-up testing that should occur when atypical glandular cells are found includes a colposcopy and biopsy. The former is an examination of the cervix, in which the doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina to look at the cervix, located at the top of the vagina below the uterus. This simple procedure involves placing diluted white vinegar on the cervix, which causes whitening of abnormal areas.
A colposcope, an instrument with a magnifying lens and bright light, allows the doctor to get a thorough view of the cervix. A biopsy is also performed, which involves the removal of tissue for examination under a microscope. Sometimes, a biopsy is used to remove all abnormal cervical tissue as part of the treatment plan. Either way, the sample is sent to a laboratory for testing.
Unlike some other forms of possible precancerous conditions in the cervix, atypical glandular cells are not graded for the presence of cancer, but they are considered cancer markers for women. Further tests that may follow the discovery of atypical glandular cells include ultrasounds and/or CT scans.
When a Precancerous or Cancerous Condition is Found
When a precancerous or cancerous condition is found in atypical glandular cells, the doctor may remove the affected tissue via laser surgery if it has not already been removed through cold knife conization at the time of biopsy. However, many doctors prefer to use a punch biopsy tool when removing tissue for a biopsy, as it is less invasive.
The doctor can remove more tissue when using cold knife conization. Cold knife conization requires either a general or regional anesthetic. Stitches may be placed in the cervix to control bleeding, or the doctor may cauterize the area.
Learn More About Atypical Glandular Cells
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with cervical cancer after a misread Pap smear, you may need the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Call today to arrange a free initial consultation.
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