Management of Abnormal Cervical Smears

What is the management of abnormal cervical screening results?

HPV infection is usually cleared by the body’s own immune system within months to a few years. 

Abnormal cervical smears are called ‘Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia’ (CIN). CIN is categorised as low grade (known as CIN1), or high grade (CIN2 to 3). The majority of low grade changes i.e. CIN1, are harmless and return to normal by themselves. People with high grade changes, i.e. CIN2 or 3, are treated to avoid the risk of progressing to cancer. High grade changes are not cancers and they take many many years to turn into cancer.

Depending on the degree of smear abnormality and sometimes HPV DNA result, the doctor or nurse may recommend a colposcopy examination. HPV DNA tests are used in certain clinical situations usually in conjunction with a smear test. The test can be helpful in deciding what follow-up is required. More information on HPV testing is available on www.timetoscreen.nz/cervical-screening/.

A colposcope is like a pair of medical binoculars on a stand and it magnifies the cells on the cervix. Colposcopy shows where the abnormal cells are. A tiny piece of tissue may be removed (a biopsy) which may cause brief discomfort. The biopsy is sent to a laboratory to confirm if an abnormality is present. These procedures are simple and require only a short visit to a hospital clinic or private specialist.  

Depending on the results of this test, you may be advised to have a repeat cervical smear, a further colposcopy, or it may be recommended that the abnormal cells are removed by a simple outpatient treatment. 

In some situations, the specialist may request HPV Type testing to assist in further management.

Treatment is only required if there are certain abnormal cell changes of the cervix.

 

What about the future?

Most cervical cancers can be prevented by HPV vaccination, having regular cervical screening and following National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) recommended guidelines if any abnormalities are identified. There is no evidence that HPV affects the ability to have children.

Smoking decreases the immune system’s ability to deal with the HPV virus and therefore may increase the risk of developing abnormal cell changes. 

More information on cervical screening is available on www.timetoscreen.nz/cervical-screening/.

 

Click here for a printable pamphlet - Cervical Smears and the Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV)

About HPV

About HPV

HPV is thought to be the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world, and most people are infected with HPV at some time in their…
HPV Key Facts

HPV Key Facts

HPV infection - key information – Vaccination against HPV has been available for many years. 80% of unvaccinated adults will pick up HPV at some point…
HPV Strains

HPV Strains

Papilloma is a word that means a small wart-like growth on the skin or mucous membrane. There are many types of papilloma infections - even some that…
HPV & Cancer

HPV & Cancer

While HPV is an extremely common infection, and there is a link between HPV and cervical, anal, penile, some vulval and throat cancers, it is…
HPV & Throat Cancer

HPV & Throat Cancer

HPV is transmitted to your mouth by oral sex. It may also be possible to get oral HPV in other ways. An increased number of oral sex partners…
HPV & Cervical Cancer

HPV & Cervical Cancer

Some types of HPV are linked to abnormal cell changes on the cervix which place women at higher risk of abnormal cervical smears and developing…
HPV & Other Cancers

HPV & Other Cancers

HPV and penile cancer – HPV-related penile cancers most often affect the ‘head’ of the penis and are rare. HPV and anal cancer – HPV-associated anal…
FAQ

FAQ

Frequently asked questions and key facts about HPV – Human Papillomavirus – FAQ's
HPV & Relationships

HPV & Relationships

The emotional impact of finding out that you or your partner has an STI can sometimes be worse than the actual infection. It’s really important to…
HPV & Cancer 2

HPV & Cancer 2

While HPV is an extremely common infection, and there is a link between HPV and cervical, anal, penile, some vulval and throat cancers, it is…
HPV Project New Zealand

The NZ HPV Project is supported by: 

  • An educational grant from New Zealand District Health Boards
  • CSL Biotherapies Ltd NZ for an educational grant contributing to optimisation.

Brought to you by the Sexually Transmitted Infections Education Foundation (STIEF). 

For information or advice on where to seek help, please get in touch.

YouTube-logo-2017-logotype.png   Just The Facts – about Sexual Health and STIs

CONTACT US


New Zealand HPV Project
C/- Sexually Transmitted Infections Education Foundation Inc (STIEF)

PO Box 2437, Shortland Street,
Auckland 1140, New Zealand

[email protected]

Tollfree: 0508 11 12 13
If calling from mobile: 09 433 6526

DONATE to help others