Most women wait anxiously to hear the result of their cervical smear test and in most cases will be told that the result is negative/normal and advised when to have the next test performed.
This however is not always the case and it is natural for women to worry if they are asked to see their Doctor regarding the result or told that the test needs to be repeated.
In the majority of cases there is no need for concern and being armed with a basic understanding of the meaning of smear test results and terminology, unnecessary stress can be eliminated!
If you are asked to have the test repeated, do not panic! The main reason for this is that the Pathologist is unable to ‘read’ your result.
There are several reasons for this including:
An insufficient number of cells in the sample
Current or recent infection which means the cells could not be seen clearly enough
Blood in the sample which can make it difficult to see the cells clearly
An inflamed cervix, which also makes it difficult to see the cells
If you are asked to return for a repeat smear, you will normally be asked to do so after around 3 months. This allows time for new cells to grow having been removed during your previous test. Depending on the reason for needing a repeat test, you may be asked to use a treatment such as antibiotics, antifungals or in the case of older women, hormone treatments.
There are several ways in which smear test findings are reported depending upon the laboratory used. However, in general, there are three main categories for abnormal results, these are:
- Mild cell changes
(also referred to as CIN I or mild dyskariosis)
- Moderate cell changes
(also referred to as CIN II or moderate dyskariosis)
- Severe cell changes (also referred to as CIN III or severe dyskariosis)
None of these mean that you have cancer!Your Doctor will want you to have further checks and possibly treatment to prevent cervical cancer which when confined to the cervix, is known as ‘carcinoma in situ’
You may also hear terms such as reactive changes, ASC, ASC-US. LSIL, HSIL. These are simply different names for non-cancerous or pre-cancerous changes.
If you are confused or concerned about your smear test result, speak to your family Doctor or Practice Nurse.