Do not Panic! Around 1 in 20 Smear Tests come back abnormal. Having abnormal smear test does not mean that you have or will have cervical cancer. It is sensible though to do some further tests to find out why. These tests can help to stop you developing cervical cancer, or to make a full recovery.
Your Smear Test should also be tested to see if you have an HPV infection. This is done by the laboratory, and is included at no further charge for all Better2Know Smear Tests. This will help your gynecologist have a full picture of your cervical health.
You will be referred to a specialist appointment with a gynecologist. It is up to you whether you want to take this referral to your NHS doctor or to continue privately. Usually it is recommended that the abnormal cells are removed. This is often done through a procedure called a colposcopy.
A colposcopy is done by a doctor or nurse who has been specially trained. It is usually done at an outpatient procedure. The doctor or nurse will ask you to lie down in a special chair, which keeps your legs apart. They will then examine your cervix – using an item called a speculum which is gently inserted into your vagina, and then opened to enable examination. They will use a colposcope (which is a microscope with a strong light) which does not enter your vagina. There may be a camera on it, so that you can also see what the specialist sees.
A liquid can be applied to the cells which helps to highlight any abnormal cells, these can be removed to do a biopsy to do further examination of the cells before deciding on any treatment. If this happens, you might feel a small scratch when the cells are taken. These are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
This procedure takes between 5 and 15 minutes.
About 40% of women are told at the colposcopy that their cervix is normal without the need for any further examinations or testing.
If treatment is needed, this can sometimes be done at the same appointment. The most common is a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ), which removes the abnormal cells in your cervix. This is carried out under local anaesthetic and involves a heated loop removing the abnormal cells. This has a success rate of 90%.
Following treatment, you will be invited back for a further smear test to check the treatment has worked.
A colposcopy is available privately across the UK and costs between £500 and £1200. If you have a private smear test with Better2Know, you can take your report to the NHS and continue your pathway with them.