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Flashcards in Cervical Screening Deck (24):

What is cervical screening?

aka smear test

Checks the health of the cervix to determine if you're at risk of cervical cancer in the future.

Tests for two possibilities:
- Abnormal cells in the cervix which have the potential to become cancerous
- HPV: a virus which can cause cervical cancer


Who is invited for cervical screening?

All women from 25 to 65


What is HPV?

HPV is the name for a very common group of viruses.

You can get it from any skin-to-skin contact of the genitals, not just penetrative sex. (This includes same-sex female couples).

Most people will get some type of HPV during their lives.

HPV is the predominant cause of cervical cancer.


Benefits of cervical screening.

The best way to prevent cercival cancer


Do you need to attend cervical screening if you're a virgin?

Since most cervical cancers are caused by HPV, and since HPV is sexually transmitted, then the chances of developing cervical cancer are very low if you've had no sexual contact. However, transmission of HPV does not depend on penetrative intercourse; it can be transmitted by any skin-to-skin contact of the genitals, including sex between women.

In any case, a virgin can still attend cervical screening if she wishes.


Risks of cervical screening:

Light bleeding or spotting (usually stops within a few hours)

Sometimes, a cervical screen may detect abnormal cells that would have gone back to normal on their own, thus leading to unnecessary treatment.


How regularly should cervical screening take place?

25 - 50: every 3 years.

50 - 65: every 5 years.


Do women over 65 need cervical screening?

Only if 1 of their last 3 tests were abnormal.


Why is cervical screening not recommended for women under 25?

Cervical cancer is extremely rare at that age.

More likely to return a false positive, or start treatment for abnormal cells that would've returned to normal by themselves.


Why is cervical screening not recommended for women over 65?

Cervical cancer is very rare at that age.


When might a women between 25 and 65 not need cervical screening?

If she has had a total hysterectomy.


How long before cervical smear tests results arrive?

2 weeks.


What happens if a woman receives an unclear results?

Invited to return in 3 months


What happens if a woman receives an abnormal result?

Depends on the result (grade of cell changes and presence of HPV).

May be invited for a colposcopy to confirm results.


What are the potential abnormal results of a cervical smear?

Low grade or borderline cell changes (no HPV)
Low grade or borderline cell changes (+ve for HPV)
HPV found, but no cell changes
High grade cell changes


What happens if woman tests +ve for HPV, but with no cell changes?

Invited for screening in 1 year to make sure HPV infection is gone.


What happens if a woman tests -ve for HPV, but with cell changes?

Depends on the grade of the changes.

High grade changes: colposcopy
Low grade changes: invited back for screening in 3 or 5 years.


During colposcopy, what terminology is used to describe the cervix?

What does it stand for?

CIN followed by a number (e.g. CIN1)
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.

The higher the number, the more likely the cells are to become cancerous.


How are abnormal cells removed from the cervix?

LLETZ: large loop excision of the transformation zone.

Cone biopsy.


What is LLETZ?

Large loop excision of transformation zone.

A thin wire loop, heated with an electric current, is used to cut away the abnormal cells.

Can be done at same time as colposcopy. Typically done with local anaesthetic.


What is a cone biopsy?

A minor operation to cut out a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix. Used to remove abnormal cells.

Performed under general anaesthetic.


Advice after removal of abnormal cells

Most women can resume normal activities the next day

Avoid driving for 24 hours after general anaesthetic.
Avoid tampons for 4 weeks (use sanitary towels instead)
Avoid sex for 4 weeks.
Avoid exercise for 2 weeks.


Tests post treatment

Cervical screening 6 months post treatment.


Side effects of cervical treatment

Pain for a few hours
Light vaginal bleeding for a few weeks

Very small risk of:
- Infection
- Premature birth.