Finding out that a smear test is abnormal can be frightening. At this stressful time, Thomas Ind and the team at our private gynaecology clinics in Central London will provide expert guidance, treatment, and support.
What is an abnormal smear?
It’s worrying to receive abnormal or borderline smear test results. However, it is not unusual to have an abnormal result and it doesn’t mean you have cancer. The smear test is designed to pick up minor changes in the cells of the cervix before any serious problems develop. One in twelve smears aren’t normal, but it is extremely rare for an abnormality to be cancer.
Nearly all abnormal smears only show minor changes in the cervical cells. These changes act as an early warning sign that over time, cervical cancer could potentially develop. If the minor changes are managed appropriately, then cancer can be prevented. It is extremely rare for a woman to develop cancer if they have regular smears, followed up by colposcopy when appropriate.
What does an abnormal smear test mean?
An abnormal smear result usually means that minor changes were found in the cells in the surface membrane of the cervix. These abnormalities are called dyskaryosis, dyskaryotic cells or dysplasia. All these terms are used interchangeably and refer to the same sort of cell changes.
If dyskaryosis has been found on your smear test, there is no need to panic. Dyskaryosis is not cancer. It is a term that is used to describe mild changes in the cells, that have been noticed on the smear test. The majority of these changes will disappear with time; however, in around one in ten women, they may progress to become more abnormal. In a very small percentage of women, the changes become worse and could lead to cancer in the future.
It usually takes many years for dyskaryosis to develop into cancer. That’s why smear tests are so important. It is rare for women who have had regular smears, for an abnormal smear to indicate that cancer has arisen. With regular screening, cell abnormalities can be picked up at an early stage and an examination called colposcopy can be performed, which will show if treatment is needed.
Treatment of dyskaryosis
If your smear test shows evidence of mild, moderate or severe dyskaryosis, Mr Thomas Ind will talk you through the findings and discuss the treatment and investigations you need.
What is the treatment for mild dyskaryosis?
Mild dyskaryosis is not cancer and, in most cases, will not lead to cancer in the future. It is safe to give these small changes a chance to return to normal by themselves without having immediate treatment. For some women, Mr Thomas Ind will recommend that the smear test is repeated or you may be referred for an investigation called colposcopy. The treatment of these minor changes will depend on the smear result and whether your test shows evidence of infection with HPV. If infection is present, Mr Ind will arrange to examine your cervix using a colposcope and take biopsies if necessary.
What is the treatment for moderate or severe dyskaryosis?
These changes in the cells of the cervix are also unlikely to indicate cancer. However, the cells are less likely to return to normal by themselves and usually need treatment. To decide whether you need treatment, a further examination should be carried out. Mr Ind will arrange a colposcopy to examine your cervix in more detail and take biopsies. It is important that these changes are checked now, in case they become more serious in the future.
It can be stressful to find out that a smear test is abnormal, but with us, you are in expert hands. The investigation will take place in the comfort and privacy of a state-of-the-art colposcopy suite at one of our Centrat London clinics, and the good news is that treatment is simple, straightforward and 95 per cent effective.
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