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Understanding your cervical smear results

Diagram of Female Reproductive OrgansA smear test, also called a cervical smear test, checks the health of your cervix. Your cervix is the neck of the womb.

A smear test picks up any early changes to the cells in your cervix to prevent cervical cancer. All women between 25 and 69 who have ever been sexually active are offered smear tests.

The tests are done every three years if your smear results stay normal or more often if a test shows there are some changes.

Normal and abnormal results

A normal result will say: Negative for intraepithelial lesion or malignancy.

An abnormal result could say any one of these three options:

Terms used

ASC-US: This is very slightly abnormal. This means there are very minor changes to the cells on the surface of your cervix.

LSIL: This means there are mild changes to the cells on your cervix.

HSIL: This means there are more serious changes to your cervix that could develop into cervical cancer if not treated.

The test may also check for HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that will usually clear up on its own. But it can sometimes cause cancer of the cervix.

Next steps

If you have ASC-US or LSIL, you'll probably not need any further treatment. These are very minor changes that often go back to normal on their own. But you should have a repeat smear in six to 12 months to check that things have gone back to normal.

If you have HSIL, you'll be referred for a colposcopy at the hospital. This is a more detailed examination of your cervix. You may also need a biopsy (a sample of tissue) taken from your cervix to decide which treatment you need.

Early treatment of any changes in your cervix is very good at preventing cancer.

You might also like to read Cervical screening & cervical smears for more information.

If you have more questions, ask your GP.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2019.


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Review key: HIUTR-269145