Normal & Abnormal Smears

How a smear works

A smear is obtained by gently scraping the outer part of the cervix to collect some cells which are placed in a preservative pot, these cells are then examined by our laboratory under a microscope, with computer assistance, to look for any abnormalities. We use ThinPrep technology, the worlds leading cervical smear technique.

How a smear result is reported

We will telephone and write to you with your results within 3-4 days with your results.

If your smear is normal (which occurs in the majority of women) this is very reassuring and could be repeated annually if wished.

If your smear is abnormal Mr Downes generally follows the guidelines of The British Society of Colposcopy and cervical pathology (BSCCP) to plan your treatment with you.

An abnormal smear: Many women each year in the UK will get an abnormal smear result. An abnormal or positive smear result does not mean you have cancer. It does mean that you have some changes in your cervical cells that may eventually develop into cancer and these need to be looked at more closely.

Abnormal changes (also known as dysplasia or dyskaryosis) can be low grade or high grade. This is defined as CIN1, CIN2 or CIN3. CIN stands for cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia, which means ‘new changes in the outer layer of the cervix’. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 refer to the depth of skin cells affected. CIN1 means the outer 1/3 of the cervix is affected, CIN2 means up to 2/3 of the skin thickness is affected and CIN3 means the full thickness of the cervix is affected.

If you have had an abnormal or positive smear you may have to have a colposcopy, this will help determine whether or not you require further treatment.

You can find out more information about abnormal smears and colposcopy at the excellent BSCCP website.