Abnormal Smear and Colposcopy

A cervical smear (or Pap smear) is now considered routine practice to screen for early signs of cervical cancer

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The cervix is the neck of the womb (uterus) and cancer of the cervix is one of the leading causes of death in women.

Fortunately for us there is no longer any need for a woman to develop cancer of the cervix. Regular smears pick up early changes in the cells of the cervix. This means that treatment can usually prevent the onset of cancer.

Cervical smears

The cervix forms the top of the vagina. By using a speculum it is possible to see the cervix. Sexually active women expose the cells of the cervix to trauma and possible infections including the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). These cells can eventually become abnormal. Gradually over time the abnormal cells change to pre cancerous cells and then eventually cancer. By doing a cervical smear we are able to detect abnormal cells before they become cancerous. In this way a woman can have treatment to her cervix and avoid developing cancer.


Once a woman has a diagnosis of an abnormal smear she is usually referred to see gynaecologist. The gynaecologist will examine the cervix, using a large microscope called a colposcope. This procedure is not painful, just a little inelegant. After the investigation, called colposcopy, your gynaecologist will then discuss treatment, if necessary.

LLETZ/Cone Biopsy

LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone) is a small operation to remove and treat the abnormal areas on the cervix that have caused the abnormal smear. Most LLETZ procedures are done under local anaesthetic. It can also be done in hospital under general anaesthetic. This decision is made by you and your gynaecologist. In most instances, LLETZ is completely curative and you may never have problems again. Occasionally, you may still require more treatment in the future.

Cancer of the cervix is caused by (Human Papilloma Virus/wart virus) HPV. For this reason we recommend that younger women get vaccinated against HPV. Another preventable cause is smoking.

Smear tests do not test for cancer of the uterus or ovaries.

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