Gynaecology Services - Cervical Screening Results
Most results are normal. An abnormal result
almost never means you have cancer.
The cervical smear test is the best method
available to detect abnormalities that can develop into cancer of the
cervix. As with all screening tests, there is a chance that some abnormalities
may not be detected by the smear test.
If you have any unusual or abnormal bleeding,
spotting or discharge, DO NOT wait for your next smear test, contact
Most results are normal, other results are
If you are told your result was unsatisfactory,
this means the test could not be "read" at the laboratory
due to not enough cells being on the slide, or blood or mucus hiding
most cells. You should have another smear within 3 months.
Occasionally your smear may show that
your cervix is inflamed or that an infection is present. This happens
quite often and you may not be aware of it. You may need to discuss
the result with your smear taker, often no treatment is required.
There are four types
of abnormal smear tests - those that show HPV (wart virus or human
papillomavirus), those that show mild changes, and those that show
moderate to severe changes. These are the sorts of changes that
the cervical smear is designed to pick up. Mild, moderate and severe
changes may also be called "dysplasia".
These cells are borderline between normal
and abnormal. Quite often the next smear is normal. After the first
atypical smear result you should have another smear in 6 months. If
the atypical cells persist for more than a year you will be referred
for colposcopy (see heading Colposcopy).
Many women have HPV present at some
time in their lives. In most cases it disappears after a time. If
your smear result shows HPV you should have your next smear in 6 months.
If your smear results continue to show that HPV is present
it is recommended that you are
referred for colposcopy.
These cells are mildly abnormal. Quite
often they become normal again. You will need to have your next smear
in 6 months time. If these changes persist you will be referred for
colposcopy. Another term for this is CIN 1, which stands for cervical
intraepithelial neoplasia. Translated this means "changes in
the surface cells of the cervix or neck of the womb". The
"1" means mild.
These are more serious cell changes
which, in some women, if not treated, may develop into a cancer. You
will be referred to a specialist for colposcopy. Other terms for these
changes are CIN 2 or 3.