Print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Follow up after an abnormal cervical screening result

If your screening test shows HPV, you may not need any treatment as your body usually clears HPV by itself. But you may need further tests or treatment depending on the type of HPV found and whether your test was done with a swab or a cervical sample. You may need to have:

Cervical sample results

What happens if the cervical sample test finds cell changes depends on the nature of the changes.

Mild changes

If your results show some mild changes called atypical squamous cells of unknown significance (ASC-US) or low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL), these often go away by themselves. Your healthcare provider will discuss whether you need a repeat test in one year or a referral for a colposcopy.

Moderate to severe (high-grade) changes (HSIL)

If you have moderate to severe changes called high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), you'll need a colposcopy. This doesn't mean you have cancer, and most cell changes can be successfully treated without needing surgery.


If your results show any changes that suggest cervical cancer, you'll be referred to a specialist. The sooner this is treated, the better the chances of success.

Possible further tests


Your cervix is the opening to your uterus (womb) at the top of your vagina. A colposcopy is a procedure used to examine your cervix using an instrument called a colposcope, which is similar to a microscope. It's done if your cervical sample shows cell changes.

A colposcopy is done as an outpatients procedure. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes, and you can go home afterwards.

Cone biopsy

If your results show more serious changes or if they aren't clear, your doctor will advise you to have a cone biopsy. This is a minor surgical procedure done during a colposcopy. The surgeon removes a cone-shaped piece of the cervix that contains abnormal cells.

The sample is them sent to the laboratory to be looked at under a microscope.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2021. Last updated September 2023.


Page reference: 278006

Review key: HICES-20461