Cervical Smear Test
A cervical smear test is used for the purposes of checking for irregular cells in a woman’s cervix. If left untreated, these cells could develop into cervical cancer. However, an early detection of abnormal cells can help prevent them from increasing in number.
What is cervical cancer?
Most commonly affecting women between 25-49, cervical cancer is the third most common type of gynaecological cancer. There are around 55 women diagnosed with this type of cancer each week. Once diagnosed, about 75% of women will survive the disease, with survival rate of women under 40 being over 85%. However, cervical cancer is accountable for nearly 1 in 10 cancer deaths in women worldwide.
What does a smear test involve?
A cervical screening test is a simple examination used to check the health of a woman’s cervix. When abnormal cells are found, in many cases they will go back to normal by themselves, but occasionally they continue to develop abnormally. If left untreated, these cells can eventually develop into cancer. However, this usually takes more than ten years to occur. Cervical cancer is easily preventable if abnormal changes are detected and treated early.
The smear test is simple and highly accurate. It involves gently inserting a speculum instrument into the vagina and then using a soft, small brush to collect cells from the woman’s cervix. These cells are then set off to a lab to be tested. Following detection, removal and advice is provided, with specialist gynaecological referrals made where necessary.
Testing for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is also included in the smear test. If HPV test results come back positive, the sub-type of HPV can be provided to help determine if the strain is low or high risk.
It is important for women over 25 to undergo regular cervical screens, whether they have been vaccinated against HPV or not.