A little worried

This is bit of a personel question & i appolagise to all our male friends on here :-) .

I had my smear test last week nurse rang me today i have to have another one because of inadequate cells. This is the first time in all the years i have had a recall.

Nurse said not to worry, but you do. I looked it up on the internet , many reasons why but one stood out for me. Imune deficiency so i woundered if any one else has had this as obviosly RA is an autoimune problem.

once again i appolagise if this offends any one but i felt i had to talk to people who understand the ups and downs of RA. Tnanx everyone xx Alison

22 Replies

  • Hello

    it could be something to do with the medications you take for RA, DMARDS and Biologics. As RA is a autoimmune problem. These medications effect the white blood cells.


  • I think so too. I have emailed my rhumy nurse as i have had low white cell counts recently but they keep saying they are not low enough to worry about. Thank u for reply xx Alison

  • I've had this before. In my case the sample did not have enough cells on to make a clear result. I had a repeat & the nurse took a bigger sample & all was fine. Hope it goes well x

  • That is exactly what "inadequate cells" refers too! Nothing to do with the RA. All the best. Cheers Doreen

  • Thanx Rachel. I have got to wait 12 weeks before i can repeat it xx Alison

  • I too had dodgy cells show up and had to have a re-test. The second one was clear. That was about 25 years ago. I think it happens fairly frequently so hope your re-test is fine too.

  • No, my latest one 18 months ago was normal but, & I know it's easy for me to say because I know how it is to be recalled, don't worry. I had a recall for breast screening & needed to have a biopsy at my second visit..... all was well but not until I heard the results did I feel I could breathe properly again. Yours could be a simple case of not enough cells were taken to analyse or you've been harbouring an infection you may not even have been aware of & it's spoiled the result. Better having a recall than it being misread even if it does prey on your mind waiting. I hope the repeat comes back clear but if you're still concerned before then I'd ask to have a word with the practice nurse who performed your smear. x

  • What medications are you taking? I saw my rheum last week and she happened to mention that people with RA often have abnormal smear test results. There is no concrete evidence why but it is thought to be related to the immunosuppressant drugs.

  • Quite a long list. Tramadol, Gabapentin,Ramapril,Amlodipine,omeprazole,Amitriptyline and finaly monthly infusion Tocilizumab :-). Xx Alison

  • Hi alibromo, maybe you can answer a question for me. I was wondering if it could be the low white blood cells for me that is causing the TB test to come back twice as not passing quality assurance? I had this test done before starting with Humira injections with no problem. I wasn't taking steroids at that time.

    I noticed on your list of medications that you are finally on Tocilizumab infusions, which is why I had the TB test. Did you have any problems with the TB test you had before starting Tocil, in regards to the low white blood cell count? My Consultant feels the test was rejected due to me taking steroids for a long time. I know we are all different and react differently to medications etc. I understand if you are unable to answer my question. I can't wait to get started on Tocilizumab infusions as the feed back I have received is excellent.

    Good luck, I hope the infusions are working for you. x

  • I wouldnt like to say apart from i know they are very stricked reguards TB & taking tocs. If you want to know perhaps go onto NRAS site they would be able to answer. Hope you get sorted soon xx Alison

  • I think it's the biologics that can lead to abnormal smear results and you're on tocilizumab, so that would make sense. Hope it's 'only' that.

  • Well the last smear i had was 3 yrs ago in the March & i started tocs that August so it is making me wonder xx Alison

  • Inadequate cells usually has absolutely nothing to do with any illness or disease - its just as it says - when they scraped, they didn't get enough of the cervical cells to be able to do the analysis. It has more to do with the shape of your bits (if your cervix is a bit hard to see), and the doctors technique than anything else. Don't worry at all about it. Just go for the repeat and hope that they do get a good enough sample of cells next time.

  • Good point earthwitch .... didn't spot that alibromo said 'inadequate cells'. Alibromo, if that's the case then you've probably got nothing to worry about. If you're not sure about the reason given, why not phone up to double check? 'Cos if it is just that they didn't get a proper sample you can relax for sure.

  • Well said and totally correct Earthwitch. Not only did we do pap smears in our Pathology Centres but in my earlier days I also used to take compulsory pap smears off drug addicts in the rehab unit, particularly those under court order who you know would never usually get one done. Because they had it during their first week of their admission, sometimes it was very difficult to get them to lay still and it was impossible to get a good slide. As Earthwitch said, its totally about not getting enough cells for them to look at as some people have a retroverted uterus or small cervix plus not everyone is good at taking them etc etc.

    So please dont worry about getting a recall.

    As far as I am aware, the cells are the same whether you are on meds or not... they dont disappear and suddenly you have no lining to the cervix just because you are on medication. However, new things are being discovered all the time so I'd be interested in a link to see what they were talking about.

  • I had an abnormal smear test about 20 years ago, long before diagnosed with RA. After my second test I went for treatment. Not painful, in and out in a day and then more regular smear tests for a while. I wouldn't worry as even if, like me, you need any treatment it's done at an early stage and completely cleared up abnormal cells. Good luck.

  • Thanx to every one for your helpful words xx Alison

  • i had the same happen to me, long before I had RA. I know how frightening it is, I was told via a letter. I phoned the path lab up at the hospital I was so worried. I was told that it was nothing to worry about and it was down to the fact that the person who did it (in this case my GP) not getting enough cells. I was worried why I had to wait weeks to have it done again, but was told that they had to wait for more cells to grow. Never forgot what she told me.............it's like having your toe nails cut, before you can cut them again they have to grow. I had another test done and it was fine. This must of been around 20 years ago and everyone I've had since then has been fine.

    So DON'T worry about it.

    Paula xx

  • I went through a stage of being recalled every three months for a year as they couldn't get enough cells each time. Finally refused to let the nurse do it again and when the doctor did it, hey presto! Got enough cells and everything was normal. It is hard not to worry but it really is very common. Clemmie

  • Please don't worry. I had the same thing with my last one. In fact my GP at the time said she wasn't sure if she'd got enough but didn't want to try again straight away and risk making me sore. Sure enough, she was right and I had to have a repeat test a few weeks later which was fine. Just a bit of a b***er having to go through it again but I'm sure you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of x

  • :-) i know how you feel. I am feeling less worried now. Thanx to everyone for reasureing me. Xx Alison.

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