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Abnormal Cells found during my smear test, can anyone help?

(84 Posts)
Tiggly Sun 19-Apr-09 22:02:28

I am scared out of my mind. I got the letter yesterday so I have to wait until tomorrow before I can phone for the colposcopy appointment. Has anyone else been through this? How quickly does the colposcopy appointment come through?

BellaNoir Sun 19-Apr-09 23:06:20

Oh dear, a bit of a shock. Well when you are seen will usually depend on
a) what the abnormal result is ~ it can be low or higher grade changes - moderate or severe would usually be seen a bit quicker (mostly within 4 weeks, often sooner, most units will try to see you in 2 weeks now)
b) how busy the colposcopy unit is, due to the increase in women going for smear tests, there has also been a slight increase in referred women to colposcopy. It does vary between areas though, the ones I work with (am in the lab) are quite busy at present.
If the letter says to ring the colposcopy unit, then that usually means you'll be able to book an appointment over the phone then. They should also have someone available to give you advice and info.
Your GP should also be able to talk with you about your result as they get a copy of it.
NHS Direct are worth giving a call - if you would like to speak to someone this evening.
There's been a couple of threads in the last day or two about colposcopy, if you look further down - which I posted some links and several people posted about what colposcopy is like. Sorry am on my iPod and can't copy/paste.

TheOldestCat Sun 19-Apr-09 23:19:32

Please don't worry unduly - this happens to many many women.

BellaNoir obviously knows what she's talking about, so not sure I can add much except when this happened to me, I was seen within a couple of weeks (had 'severe' changes). After the colposcopy and cone biopsy I went back a week or so later to have 'loop diathermy' (taking the cells off with a heated wire). Then smear tests once a year for five years - all has been fine.

So please don't panic.

PS I found this link from NHS direct useful - see this quote from a gynaecologist :

The smear test, people talk about it as a cervical cancer smear test. It's actually a cervical precancer smear test
and women who are referred to hospital because of an abnormal test, in the very large majority don't have cancer, they have precancer and they can have a small procedure done in the clinic under local anaesthetic which will prevent cancer forming.

pinksancerre Sun 19-Apr-09 23:24:17


I am going through this at the moment. I had my smear at the end of last month. I got my abnormal result about 10 days ago. I have got my colposcopy on the 29th of this month. I had severe changes (CIN 3) but have read quite a few reassuring threads on here in the archives. So just keeping my anxiety in check!!

pinksancerre Sun 19-Apr-09 23:27:03

BTW - try not to worry to much. Did it say your level of abnormality??

lisad123 Sun 19-Apr-09 23:33:00

well I saw my GP 5 weeks ago and finally got letter this week, my appointment is middle of next month. They arent rushing. I know my friend went though the same thing afew weeks back and she only had to wait 2 weeks (but went private anyways so waited 3 days).

I have been here before, so not overly worried, most cases are caught early and are pre cancerous, rather than cancer. They do stage the cells, so your GP should have a good idea of these results. My friends was stage 3, but the doctor she saw said that her were still pre cancerous, and hopefully she'll just need a lazer and thats it.

Easy to say but try not to panic yet. Be careful what you read online, and get on GP in the morning. Good luck

BellaNoir Sun 19-Apr-09 23:45:43

Lisa: the current national standards are that someone with moderate or severe dyskaryosis should be seen within 4 weeks of the date that the test is reported. Most labs workload has gone up by 40-80% in the last couple of months. This has a knock on effect in the colposcopy department too, they are all trying to see people as quickly as possible but without compromising patient safety.
The grading system is:
Cytology reported as mild, moderate and severe dyskaryosis (the report codes are grade 3, 7 and 4). These are roughly equivalent to the histology (a piece of tissue taken from the cervix rather than cells scraped off) grades of CIN, CIN2 and CIN3. CIN= cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, which is pre-cancerous changes.
The term 'stage' is not generally used in this context.

lisad123 Sun 19-Apr-09 23:58:25

ok sorry hers were CIN 3, from what she told me.
Mine due to systoms and look of cervix according to my GP hmm, but tbh, i have too much else going on to worry about it (wow a good point to having a sick dh)

DandyLioness Mon 20-Apr-09 00:09:34

Message withdrawn

TheOldestCat Mon 20-Apr-09 17:31:59

Pinksancerre (and OP) - I had CIN 3 too and am fine, like Dandylioness and so many others. It really is minor treatment and, while of course it is worrying, it's great it's being sorted out at this pre-cancerous stage. Emphasis on the pre-

So keep that in mind when your anxiety levels go up smile

Tiggly Mon 20-Apr-09 23:12:12

oh my goodness, thank you all so much for responding to me. This is my first chance to look and read your replies today. I thank you all very gratefully for giving such a huge amount of information. I am definitely going to phone my gp in the morning and ask him what the report says as I would like to know what to expect at the Colposcopy clinic. I rang the phone number for the clinic today and they said my referral was with the consultant then and there and to call back in the morning for an update (i.e. when they want me to be seen). As the lady on the phone was a receptionist I couldn't ask any further questions about the results, but fingers crossed I get a date fairly soon. I just don't like the thought of anything like that going on! This may sound awful, but it certainly sounds like I am not alone in this, and that from experience, it generally gets sorted out fairly promptly.

Can I ask a very personal question of those who have experienced the abnormal results? Please don't answer this if it is a question you would rather not share the answer! I have had one / two of the reported signs of cervical cancer i.e. pain / bleeding after intercourse. This is what is making my mind race. I have only had this since around Christmas and I have been with my husband 13 years, which is what gave me the kick up the behind to go and get my smear updated (should have gone in 2007 but was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour and have been treated for that over the last 18 months, and still have at least 6 months to go on that!). According to the leaflet I should have been re-called every 5 years, so was 2 years overdue).

I will get in touch with the clinic tomorrow and will definitely phone the gp for my results as well (he knows me well so I hope he will be happy to discuss this over the phone).

I thank you all for replying to my post. I shall update this tomorrow once I know more.

Much appreciated,

TheOldestCat Tue 21-Apr-09 09:06:56

Hope it goes well today, Tiggly, do let us know.

You're right - you're certainly not alone in all this.

I had CIN 3 and didn't have bleeding after sex, but that doesn't mean anything for your situation. It could be many many things, so don't panic, just call the clinic and do chat to your GP - I'm sure they can allay your fears.

My friend is also being treated for a benign brain tumour - hope you are doing ok.

SarahL2 Tue 21-Apr-09 09:26:11

I had been having some discomfort after/during sex too and am currently awaiting my smear test results.

I also had CIN1 cells and a loop excision in 2005. As others have said, it's not nice but it's certainly not terrible either. Doesn't take long. Just gave me a period like tummy ache and I was advised to take things easy for a couple of days.

Fingers crossed for both of us Tiggly x

lisad123 Tue 21-Apr-09 19:16:23

well im bleedign after sex and pain, so hence why i have been referred. Doesnt mean that its certain though, as one of the last times its because i had cervical errourtions.
how did it go today?

Tiggly Tue 21-Apr-09 19:43:02

SarahL2 I'm with you all the way and have everything crossed for us that we will get through this ok xx

As you may tell I have not had much success today and am totally gutted. I have phoned my gp twice and they have told me the report isn't in the surgery yet and will probably get there in the next couple of days if I have had my letter (that is the normal scenario apparently).

I have also asked the Cervical Screening nurse if she was able to discuss the report with me as she was given it when I phoned. She told me that No she couldn't give me the actual report details but did I have any questions. I enquired about the result possibly meaning that the original test not getting enough cells and a second smear would indicate no problems. The nurse confirmed that as my letter stated there were abnormal cells that meant there was definitely some abnormal cells present and depending on which grade it is, how I would be treated. I confirmed what she said to me by responding with, so that means there are either precancerous or cancerous cells present? Yes was her response. Shit shit shit. I just want to know which grade I am, but I can't find out. How frustrating.

I had success with the Colposcopy Clinic though. I have an official date for the 18th May but I said to them that as I work in the building I could do short notice. They rang me back to say they had availability this week but when I enquired with my boss to see if I could attend, I can't be spared as we are too thin on the ground. What are they going to do when I am in a box? I am so scared. To be absolutely fair to them they were supportive when I was diagnosed with the benign brain tumour, and perhaps I have used my chips!

I shall update this once again once I know more and SarahL2 keep me posted with how you get on? Take care,

Litchick Tue 21-Apr-09 21:39:13

Do not worry too much at this stage.
I had pre cancerous cells and a colposcopy. Then I fell pregnant and had to wait until after the birth for follow up treatment because pregnancy was high risk.
In the meantime the cells had gone back to normal.
Since then I've had a million smears and they've all been okay. I still bleed after sex and when I have a smear you'd be forgiven for tinking someone had slaughtered a goat - but still all okay.

SarahL2 Wed 22-Apr-09 15:06:22

Will certainly let you know how I get on Tiggly. You do the same too okay!

Keep thinking, the cells may only be CIN1 and still cause this much fuss.

Still got those fingers crossed for us - it's making typing very difficult

Mulanmum1 Wed 22-Apr-09 16:08:15

Just wondering what information do you get when you receive your smear test results? If you are not clear, does it tell you if you are CIN 1,2 or 3? Does it depend which health authority you are in? Does you GP get a more detailed report and if so, does s/he receive it before you do?

Mulanmum1 Wed 22-Apr-09 16:31:50

Sorry - didn't mean to post this here. Have started new thread!

watsthestory Wed 22-Apr-09 16:40:20

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Tiggly Wed 22-Apr-09 19:06:46

Mine is a stage 3 severe dyskariosis but as it depends on the surface of the cervix as to whether or not it is definitely cancerous, but one thing for certain is that i have precancerous cells present and i will certainly need treatment. gutted.

Mulanmum1 Wed 22-Apr-09 19:21:37

Tiggly - all the sites I've looked at stress that CIN3 is precancer NOT cancer

"CIN 2 or 3
If you have moderate or severe cell changes, or CIN 2 or 3, you will need treatment to get rid of the abnormal cells. There is more about treatment for an abnormal smear in this section of CancerHelp UK. You usually only need treatment once. Then you have follow up smears. If you do have an abnormal smear and have successful treatment you are very unlikely to get cervical cancer (provided you continue being screened). If you do not have treatment, you are very much at risk from cervical cancer.

Carcinoma in situ (CIS)
CIN 3 is sometimes called 'carcinoma in situ'. This sounds like cancer, but it isn't. It means that some of the cells look cancerous. But they are all contained within the skin covering the cervix. It will not be a true cancer until the cells break through the top layer of skin covering the cervix and spread into the tissue underneath. If this happens, the cells can spread and then they will become a true cancer. You must have treatment as soon as possible if you have carcinoma in situ. As long as the affected area is removed, cancer can be prevented".

QueenEagle Wed 22-Apr-09 19:30:09

My smear in October 08 showed CIN3 changes and was waiting no more than 3 weeks for loop diathermy treatment. Subsequent biopsy showed I needed the same treatment again 3 months later which I had a few weeks ago and this biopsy result gave me the all clear. I will have smears in 6, 12 and 24 months then yearly.

Only needed 2 days off work really but what I would warn about is the following period after treatment. You can't use internal sanitary protection or have penetrative sex for 4 weeks after. I found my period horrendous as it was shedding a lot of the scab caused by treatment.

But don't worry, it's good in a way as you will be screened closely to ensure nothing can develop into cancer.

CoteDAzur Wed 22-Apr-09 19:32:23

CIN III is not the same thing as "cancer in situ".

watsthestory Wed 22-Apr-09 19:35:15

Message withdrawn

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