Abnormal Smear Test
A cervical smear test is a way of screening for changes that can affect the cells on the neck of the womb (cervix). There can be many reasons why a smear test may come back as abnormal, most of which can be simply addressed.
In most cases, having an abnormal smear does not mean you have cancer. It just means that changes were found which might go on to develop into cervical cancer in several years’ time. Monitoring, and if necessary treating these changes, is designed to help prevent cervical cancer.
Our private gynaecologists understand how an abnormal smear test result can cause concern and will explain what they’ve found, and suggest the best treatment.
Abnormal Smear Test And HPV
Most cell changes detected on an abnormal cervical smear are caused by a type of wart virus called the human papillomavirus or HPV. These viruses are so common that more than half of sexually active women are infected with HPV at some time during their life, although most will not even know it.
If you are infected with a strain of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, it can lie dormant within the cells of the cervix. In some cases, your immune system will recognise and clear the virus. However, if the virus persists, it can cause cervical cell abnormalities which, if not detected and treated, could eventually lead to cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer develops slowly, over many years. If you have regular abnormal cervical smear tests your cell changes can be monitored and, where necessary, treated - usually long before cervical cancer would have developed. That’s why having a regular smear test is so important.
Abnormal Smear Treatment
Most women with an abnormal cervical smear have only slightly abnormal cells.
If these are found in your smear your sample is tested to see if certain high-risk strains of the HPV virus are present.
If the HPV test is negative, you have a low risk of developing cervical cancer before your next cervical screen test and will be invited back for screening once a year.
If you have an HPV infection, or if the cells on your cervical smear are abnormal, you will be offered another test, called a colposcopy. This procedure examines your cervix more closely under magnification.
If abnormal areas are seen on the colposcopy, these can be sampled with a biopsy, which removes a small amount of cells for examination by a specialist pathologist.
Depending on the nature of any abnormal cells found, you may be monitored with repeat smears, or the abnormal cells could be treated with laser therapy or cryotherapy–freezing.
Around one in two women who have a colposcopy are found to have abnormal cells which need removing, to help prevent cervical cancer.
Private Cervical Smear Test In London
The consultant gynaecologists at The Medical Chambers Kensington recognise that an abnormal smear result can be very disconcerting, so they will provide a clear explanation of what your smear showed, explain all your treatment options, and help you decide which approach is right for you.
To find out how our private cervical smear specialists can help you, please make an appointment online or telephone 020 7244 4200 for a confidential chat.