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A question about smear tests

(16 Posts)
catseverywhere Mon 04-Jan-16 17:50:42

Had my last smear test about 18 months ago, and when I got the letter afterwards with the result it didn't say what it usually says. Obviously time has gone by so I can't remember the exact wording, but I seem to remember the gist of it being that I tested negative for HPV so there was no need for my sample to be tested and I was at very low risk of having anything wrong. I think it had the usual caveat that if I got any strange symptoms to see the GP, and I just forgot all about it at the time.

Been thinking about it on and off, and can that be right? Is testing positive for HPV the only way you can get cervical cancer? And if I've tested negative, does that mean I don't need smears any more, especially if my DP (also female) tests negative too?

BabyGanoush Mon 04-Jan-16 17:52:56

It's caused by a sexually transmitted virus.

but Google probably knows more than me wink

LineyReborn Mon 04-Jan-16 17:55:10

I think it's likely the letter said your cells were normal therefore you weren't tested for the HPV virus.

You should still consider a smear test every five years, I would say.

Your GP should have been sent a copy of the letter if you want to check (which I would).

QueenMolotov Mon 04-Jan-16 17:57:26

Cellular structure can change. I'ma not sure of the details about HPV, but for the sole reason of potential cellular changes, I would always have regular smears.

catseverywhere Mon 04-Jan-16 17:58:36

I'm fairly sure it was the other way round - I was negative for HPV so they didn't need to test the sample. Seeing GP later this week (unrelated issue) - will ask then.

Thanks smile

SpaghettiMeatballs Mon 04-Jan-16 18:00:33

I had similar OP. It said that there were borderline changes to the cells but as I was negative for HPV no need to do anything further.

Not sure how I feel about waiting 5 years for another test after being told there were changes to the cells.

I understand the majority of cervical cancers are caused by HPV but I didn't think it was all of them?

Babymouse Mon 04-Jan-16 18:01:25

Smoking also increases risk for cervical cancer

Littleallovertheshop Mon 04-Jan-16 18:08:46

It isn't all of them, but if I recall correctly, the smear test doesnt always find the non hpv ones because they can be further up the cervix?

FadedRed Mon 04-Jan-16 18:13:26

The crux of this is in the wording very low risk. It doesn't say NO risk
Cervical smears as part of a national screening programme are targeted a a large 'at risk 'population, i.e. all women between the ages of 25-65. Within that group some women are at much higher risk than others, but the intricacies of changing the blanket targeting and still having an effective Public Health national screening system would cost even money than the current system and would not be cost effective. Especially as determining those at that higher risk would involve the truthful answering of very delicate and potentially embarrassing questions about sexual activities/history.
95% ish of cervical cancers do come from women who have/had HPV. The technology for analysing smears has improved considerably over the past few years and is evolving based on evidence from the ongoing screening programme as time passes, so is likely to change in the future. The recommendations for who should have smears and at what intervals is based on this ongoing evidence, and what the Public Health systems can reasonably put in place.
The bottom line is that no HCP professional is going to say to you not to have a smear if you are in the target group, because they cannot guarantee 100% that you will never get the disease. And the smear, whilst potentially embarrassing and uncomfortable, is not invasive or harmful. So the balance of risk vs benefit will always be that you are advised to have the smear, even if you are a virgin, or have only ever had any sexual activity with another virgin.
Strewth, that was a bit of an essay- hope it makes sense, Op! smile

thisismypassword Mon 04-Jan-16 18:19:20

It's every 3 years now isn't it??

blibblibs Mon 04-Jan-16 18:22:43

OP you must live in an area where they do the HPV test first. If that comes back negative then a slide, to be looked at under the microscope will not be made and you'll go on to a 3 or 5 yearly recall, depending on your age.
I would advise you to return when your recalled.

And on another note for any young person in Scotland, in April the starting age for a cervical smear goes from 18 up to 25, so I would advise anyone about to turn 18 or under 25 and having never had one to go and have one before April.

Bonkerz Mon 04-Jan-16 18:23:10

Had my smear just before Christmas. Nurse explained that if smear results were abnormal it would automatically be tested for HPV but if clear I would get results as normal.

Results came 4 days later.

LineyReborn Mon 04-Jan-16 18:28:12

I just had a smear, and it was so much easier than previous ones.

Also I was bleeding a bit, and it didn't matter. That saves such a lot of re-booking.

Anyway the nurse said, IF there are any abnormalities THEN they will test for the HPV virus.

I guess it's different by area? I've had my letter (copy to GP) and been told to attend again in 5 years as cell result = normal.

blibblibs Mon 04-Jan-16 18:38:10

It is different by area, some will HPV test first and if negative no slide will be made, in other areas a HPV test will be carried out after treatment if abnormal cells were found.

A decision is being made soon if England will go with the HPV test first in all areas.

LineyReborn Mon 04-Jan-16 18:39:43

Thanks blibblibs that explains it.

PollyPerky Mon 04-Jan-16 19:19:17

5 years is far too long.
It's 3 years now for younger women and 5 years for women aged 50+ in my area. I've never waited 5 years- always have one privately in between- known too many friends with C3 changes that would have become worse if they had waited 5 years.

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