Question: Why would my last Pap smear report have the word "dysplasia" in it? I am afraid it means cancer. My doctor wants me back in for more tests but does not seem to be terribly concerned. "Just to be sure," he says. Ease the anxiety of this 52-year-old lady.

- Mrs. R.R.T.Answer: Dysplasia signifies abnormal tissue cells. The translation from the Greek is "poorly formed."

Always disturbing but not always ominous, the finding should prompt follow-up tests. You want to rule out the worst scenario, cancer.

I suspect the new testing will feature colposcopy, visualization of the area with a special instrument to magnify and illuminate the suspect cervix area.

If the colposcopy leaves questions, a biopsy of the tissue would settle the matter.

Remember, please, that dysplastic cells can reflect little more than a passing infection. That will be settled by the follow-up examination. If something is seriously amiss, the colposcope testing can help guide the doctor in surgery to remove dangerous tissue.

Even if the verdict is not ominous now, you might have to alter your Pap test schedule for a period of time - until smears show reversion to normal - "just to be sure."

Question: Can you explain an embolus as it relates to stroke?

- Mrs. V.

Answer: An embolus is a rather small bit of a clot that breaks loose in an artery.

If it occurs in a brain vessel, the traveling clot can clog up a smaller artery, causing brain-flow blockage. A stroke follows. That's a thromboembolic stroke.

Another stroke scenario involves a break in a tiny artery of the brain. The resulting spate of blood - hemorrhage - causes the brain tissue damage. It is called a hemorrhagic stroke.

For more information, see the "Stroke Recovery: Hope and Help" report, which is available by writing: Dr. Donohue - No. 31, P.O. Box 5539, Riverton, NJ 08077-5539. Enclose $3 and a self-addressed, stamped (52 cents) No. 10 envelope.

Question: One wonders where old medical terms go to die. Years ago, I ran across the term "devil's grip" in reference to flu. What about devil's grip today? I have not seen it for years.

- S.S.

Answer: "Devil's grip" refers to a viral infection of chest muscles, epidemic pleurodynia. "Grippe" is a french word for "flu." Used here, it is a misnomer.

The virus involved in devil's grip is the Coxsackie, which causes the inflammation of chest muscles so much a part of the illness. Pain in the lower chest, especially when breathing, is a notable feature and perhaps explains the "devil's grip" name.

Usually, the Coxsackie infection subsides in a few weeks with use of simple pain relievers. Heating pads offer relief.

I find "grip" and "grippe" listed in a medical source as synonyms for "influenza," but they are not.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him at P.O. Box 5539, Riverton, NJ 08077-5539.