Dr Glenda McLaren
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Dr Glenda McLaren
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Cervical Screening

Cervical Screening (Pap Smear Test)

The Cervical Screening Test (CST) is a program of screening for early cell changes that may develop into cancer of the cervix. Unlike the previous Pap Smear test, the CST specifically tests for presence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Persistent HPV infection has been associated with cell changes that can develop into cancer. 

There are three possible outcomes from the CST relating to the need for further investigation, and the frequency of ongoing screening: 

  1. If HPV16 and 18 are present: these are ‘high risk’ viruses that are more likely to cause cell changes. In this case, you would need further examination and investigation.
  2. If ‘other non 16/28 HPV’ viruses are present. This is termed ‘intermediate risk’ and the CST needs to be repeated in a year.
  3. The CST shows no HPV. You do not need a repeat test for 5 years.

Read more about the Australian Cervical Screening Program from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 

Abnormal Cervical Screening Test Results

An abnormal cervical screening test result can be a cause for significant anxiety and concern. However, completing the investigation and management can provide significant reassurance, and prevent the development of cervical cancer if treated appropriately.

Investigation and treatment of abnormal pap smears is done with colposcopy and a day surgery procedure called LLETZ Procedure or a Cone Biopsy.

We offer a sensitive approach to talking through the options after an abnormal CST or colposcopy and any further investigations or treatment if required.

What is Colposcopy?

A colposcopy is a procedure that provides a magnified view of the cervix and is the next step to investigate an abnormal pap smear. This examination takes a few minutes and identifies where the abnormal area is and allows the gynaecologist to determine where is the best place to take a small biopsy to determine how significant the abnormal area is.  A cervical biopsy is only small and causes only slight discomfort.

What is a LLETZ procedure and a Cone Biopsy?

A LLETZ procedure (Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone) requires day surgery. You will have a light general anaesthetic and while you are asleep the abnormal area of the cervix is removed. The removed tissue is sent away for histological (microscopic) examination with the pathologist to ensure the entire area has been removed. Follow up pap smears are required after the procedure before you return to your GP for ongoing screening.

Sometimes a larger area of the cervix needs to be taken to be certain all the abnormal cells have been removed. The amount of cervix that needs to be removed will be determined by the degree and extent of your cervical abnormality on biopsy and your age.



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