If you receive a borderline or inflammatory smear test result this indicates that slight changes have been detected in your cervical smear. What this actually means is that the cells are not perfectly normal although they are not exactly abnormal. This can cause distress and worry for a lot of women so it's important to realise that in the majority of cases there is no need to worry. The changes are minor and over time will most likely return to normal.
The reason your smear test may have returned a borderline or inflammatory result is sometimes due to your cervix being a little irritated or due to an infection that your body was fighting when the smear was taken. You will probably be asked to return to the clinic for a re-test within three to six months time just tpo ensure everything is normal again.
Assuming your re-test returns a normal smear result it is probable that you will have another re-test agin in six months time to ensure the cells are still normal. If they are then you will most likely return to a normal schedule of cervical testing.
If however, the re-test still shows a borderline result you may be referred for a colposcopy.
Definitions of Smear Test Results
About 10% of women who have had a cervical smear test will be recalled for a repeat test. Reasons for recalls vay between an inadequate collection of cells to cell abnormalities. However around 90% cervical smear tests return a normal result.
If you have an abnormal test result you will be told what sort of changes were detected.
1 in 20 test results will return with borderline changes or mild changes, known as CIN1. In many cases you will be advised to return for a further smear test in around 6-12 months and very often the cells will have returned to normal without the need for treatment within that time.
1 in 100 test results will return with moderate cell changes, known as CIN2. You will probably be offered a colposcopy.
1 in 200 test results will return with severe cell changes, known as CIN3. Again, it is most likely you will be offered a colposcopy.
Less than 1 in 1000 will return a result showing invasive cancer. If you receive this result you will be referred to a specialist for immediate treatment.
Abnormalities found during Smear Tests
Several terms are commonly used to describe precancerous, or pre-invasive, abnormalities.
The system used most frequently is known as cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia CIN).
CIN is divided into grades. Grade 1 (mild), Grade 2 (moderate) and Grade 3 (severe). These grades are related to the risk of any cervical cell changes developing into cancer.
Several studies have illustrated that of the women who have CIN3 and don't receive adequate treatment, 36% will develop an invasive tumour 20 years later. Although women with CIN1 have 47 times the normal risk of developing cervical cancer, 50 per cent of the time the cells will revert back to normal if left untreated.
Related Smear Test Articles
For further information about HPV visit NHS Cancer Screening Programme.
Further information about Colposcopy and invasive illness is available from the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
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