In the UK women between 25 and 65 years are screened for cervical smear abnormalities which left untreated may develop into cervical cancer. The cause of an abnormal smear is infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) especially serotypes 16, 18, 31, 33 and 45. It has been shown that 80% of young women between the ages of 18 and 25 years will meet the virus and become infected, but very few will develop an abnormal smear.
If a smear is taken by the GP and an abnormality is detected the woman will be informed and referred to a Colposcopy Clinic for a colposcopy and biopsy of the cervix.
At the Colposcopy Clinic a gentle examination is performed, the smear may be repeated and the HPV checked. A special wash solution of acetic acid is applied and if it detects an abnormal area then a biopsy is taken.
A decision is then made to treat the patch of abnormal cells and this may be done at a subsequent visit.
The treatment is with an instrument called a cold coagulator and takes about 10 minutes. It is a very gentle heat treatment that does not destroy too much of the tissue on the cervix and it is therefore very safe. There are no problems in the future with conception and delivery of a baby through the treated cervix.
We know women are very anxious when an abnormal smear is diagnosed.
Our woman gynaecologist is very experienced and gentle so patients need have no fear of pain or discomfort and may choose to go home or even back to work directly afterwards.