A smear is obtained by scraping the outer part of the cervix, which is dissolved in a preservative pot, where the cells are examined under a microscope for abnormalities. Cervical smears are able to detect abnormal cells.
The Abnormal Smear
The abnormal results show mild, moderate or severe abnormalities, it does not mean that you have cancer. They only indicate pre-cancerous abnormalities, which if left untreated can progress to cancer. All abnormalities should be investigated by a colposcopy as soon as possible.
What causes an abnormal smear?
Abnormal smears often represent a pre-cancerous abnormality on the cervix. These pre-cancerous abnormalities are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV or Wart virus). This is a very common infection and 60-70% women (and men) get it at some stage in life. Most (95%) women will shake it off through their immunity, but in some women it may linger on and cause abnormal smears.
What is Colposcopy?
Colposcopy is an examination of the cervix by the microscope. It is a simple procedure, which involves inserting a speculum for an internal examination. A diluted solution of acetic acid is applied and the cervix is examined for white areas. It is usually associated with the discomfort encountered during a smear test and takes only 5 minutes to complete. A biopsy may be taken from these areas (slightly more painful) and sent for further testing in the Laboratory. Although the consultant will be able to give you some idea, however the final outcome can only be obtained after the biopsy results.
What is Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LETZ)
This treatment involves removing a small cone from the tip of the cervix by a hot wire loop. This may be done under local anaesthesia in the clinic or under general anesthesia in the hospital. In either case there should be no pain during or after the procedure. It allows for removal of the abnormal area and histology so that we can ascertain the degree of abnormality. The cervix usually grows back to normal but slightly shorter within 6 weeks. You will require follow up after 6 months and once a year for life since a small percentage of women will have recurrence.
Mr Raza is an experienced colposcopist and carry out all various forms of treatments. If you are concerned or have found abnormal smear test, contact assistant practice manager to book an appointment.