Precancerous cells in cervix

I have an ‘abnormal’ smear, what does this mean?

An abnormal smear test usually means that there may be precancerous cells on the cervix. Precancerous cells are curable, usually with a simple outpatient procedure called a colposcopy. Cancer is often not curable. The whole reason for having a smear is so that we can pick up and treat any precancerous cells, thereby ensuring that you never get cancer of the cervix.

Cells do not usually go from ‘Normal’ to ‘Cancer’; they go through pre-cancerous changes. We usually classify precancerous change as Mild, Moderate or Severe.

By examining the cells from your smear, we can spot precancerous cells, we can then treat them so you don’t develop cancer.

Diagram explaining the progression of precancerous cells to cancer

If you have very minor changes to the cells of your cervix you may be monitored with repeat colposcopies until the body returns the cells to normal. Where there are more advanced precancerous changes you will require removal or treatment of the cells, with laser, diathermy or a process called cold coagulation If you are in the early stages of cancer you may require a radical hysterectomy, and for later stages of cancer radiotherapy and chemotherapy is usually recommended.

Further reading & information
Getting help
If you wish to make an appointment to seek further advice and or treatment, please email Dr Harrington's secretary.