Pap Smears and Colposcopy
A pap smear is a screening test to check if any abnormal changes have occurred in cells of the cervix. A pap smear may also be referred to as a cervical smear.
It is recommended that all women aged 18-70 who have ever been sexually active should have a pap smear every two years, or one to two years after first sexual activity, whichever is later.
To perform a pap smear Dr Shalini Dewan will very gently take cells form either the outside of the cervix or in some cases just inside. These cells will be examined under a microscope in a pathology lab. The examination will determine if the cells are normal or if there have been abnormal changes.
Abnormal Pap Smear
Abnormal changes on a pap smear may be due to various reasons including infection or inflammation.
An abnormal change in the size and shape of cells is called “dysplasia”. This is not cancer but if left untreated over a long period of time has the potential of progressing into cancer.
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is one of the known causes of cervical dysplasia.
Colposcope is a magnifying instrument which is used to examine abnormalities in the vagina, vulva or the cervix.
When there are abnormal cells on the pap smear further evaluation may be needed with a colposcope. A pap smear is a good screening test however colposcopy can more accurately determine if further testing or treatment is required.
A colposcopy usually takes 30 minutes. If a biopsy is taken during the procedure your results will be available within 1-2 weeks.
You may experience mild cramping during the procedure and for a short time afterwards. You will have light bleeding for a few days after the procedure. It is advisable you avoid sex, tampons or baths for a week to allow the cervix to heal.
Depending on the results of colposcopy or biopsy further treatment may be needed such as Wire loop excision (LLETZ) or cone biopsy. If needed you will be booked into a hospital for this.