A smear test is a sample of cells from the outside of the cervix (the neck of the womb) that allows detection of pre-cancerous abnormalities of the cervix. These changes can then be treated successfully before cancer develops.
An abnormal smear understandably makes women worried about what is going on and what is likely to happen. The important thing to know is that the vast majority of women do not have cancer but a condition with changes in the neck of the womb (cervix) that we call ‘Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia’ (CIN) or ‘Cervical Glandular Intraepithelial Neoplasia’ (cGIN). These are pre-cancerous changes that have the potential to turn into cancer if left untreated for some time. When these changes are found it is normally very easy to get rid of them completely.
What is colposcopy?
Colposcopy is simply a more detailed examination of the cervix using a speculum (the instrument needed for your smear to be taken), special magnifying binoculars, and two different solutions which are applied on the cervix with a cotton wool ball and highlight the presence of pre-cancerous changes. The examination takes a bit longer than a smear test, but I will be talking to you, before and throughout the examination and explaining to you exactly what is being done.