The test looks for changes in cells of the cervix. This is not an analysis of cancer but can identify irregular cells that could point to serious difficulties such as cervical cancer.
Signs may not be encountered in advance until the condition is at an advanced stage. The abnormal cells are usually not cancerous, particularly if you have frequent cervical cancer screenings.
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However, if abnormal cells are recorded at screening may be monitored and/or treated to stop cancer from growing. Routine screening has been shown to decrease the risk of advanced cancer 90% on average for older women 35-64.
What to expect at your appointment
The procedure is usually very quick and painless and can be momentarily uncomfortable. The practitioner will ask you to lie on a couch.
They gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your private part to see your cervix. A small brush is used to take a sample. It takes the cells inside the cervical opening. The test takes only a few minutes.
If you have health problems, following your cervical screening, you want to talk, you can use your appointment to ask these questions.
The results you get will be described as either:
2. Unclear/poor/inadequate – This means that the cells can not be considered and we will need to take another sample in time 3 months.
3. Abnormal/irregular – This means that changes have been observed, either mild, moderate or severe.