A cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. This article is written to ensure you choose the best standard (ThinPrep) and to remind you to ask for HPV screening (if abnormal cells are detected).
Testing for abnormal cells
Cervical screening is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Cells can change. Most of these changes won’t lead to cervical cancer. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so they can’t become cancerous. The condition mainly affects sexually active women aged 30 to 45. Detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer
The aim is to reduce the chance to develop cervical cancer. All women are advised to have cervical screening:
Being screened regularly means any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.
However, cervical screening isn’t 100% accurate and doesn’t prevent all cases of cervical cancer.
If possible, try to book an appointment during the middle of your menstrual cycle as this can ensure a better sample of cells is taken. The recommended frequency of testing for women aged 25 to 49 is every 3 years, aged 49 to 64 every 5 years and over 65 on indication.
You should receive the result within 10 days.
Changes in the cells of the cervix are often caused by the human papilloma virus. There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Some types are high risk and some types are low risk.
If HPV is found in your sample, you should be referred for a colposcopy for further investigation and, if necessary, treatment.
Liquid Based Cytology (THINPREP), the current standard
This is an improved means of slide preparation. It gives more homogenous samples which are easier to read. This technique comes with increased sensitivity, specificity and improved efficiency. Thin layer of cervical cells are deposited on a microscope slide.
Combined with the THINPREP imaging system it is the most comprehensive cervical cancer test available.
Please make sure your next cervical screening is done by using THINPREP. Also ensure yourself that your lab will use the Thinprep imaging system.
Good Practice Clinic uses THINPREP technique and system.
Vaccinations against Cervical Cancer are also available at our Good Practice Clinic.