A colposcopy examination may be advised if your last smear test report showed that some of the cells need closer inspection. An abnormal smear result usually means that small changes have been found in the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb). These changes are known as dyskariosis and act as early warning signs that cervical cancer could develop in the future.
An abnormal smear result does not mean that you have cancer but it does mean that you may need to be monitored more frequently or that further investigation is required.
You may have several abnormal smears before being referred for a colposcopy.
The aim of any further treatment that is recommended is to destroy all cells that are affected by CIN whilst causing the minimum amount of disruption to normal tissue. Usually treatment can take place on an out-patient basis where you will be awake during the procedure and a local anaesthetic is used.
Treatment is nearly always 100% successful and it is unlikely that CIN will recur but you will need to attend regular reviews in the future.
Abnormal smears are common; 1 in 12 results are reported as "abnormal" & up to 100,000 women are referred for
only a third of the cells on the surface of the cervix are affected. These may be left to return to normal on their own or may be treated.
two-thirds of the cells on the surface of the cervix are affected. Treatment will usually be recommended to return the cells to normal.
A small heated wire loop is used to excise (remove) the abnormal cells. The cells which are removed are then tested in a laboratory which often means that a biopsy is not required beforehand.
The technical term used to refer to cell changes confirmed by a biopsy is cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia which is more commonly known as CIN. Cell changes are graded by the degree of abnormality and these grades are referred to as:
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This is a heat treatment which destroys the abnormal cells. it is called "cold" because it is not as hot as diathermy treatment. A biopsy will be taken prior to treatment.
A colposcopy takes around twenty minutes and is designed to assess the size and area of the abnormality on your cervix. The examination itself is similar to a smear test but a special instrument called a "colposcope" (a microscope with a strong light source) is used to look at the cervix. A special solution is applied to the cervix to show up any abnormal cells and help identify their size, location and degree of abnormality. If an abnormal area is identified a small sample of tissue (biopsy) will be taken.
Following your colposcopy further treatment may be recommended, depending on the findings during your examination and any biopsy results.
all of the cells on the surface of the cervix are affected. Treatment will be needed to return the cells to normal.