What if my cervical screening test shows high-risk HPV infection?

If your cervical screening test results show abnormal cells (borderline change or low grade dyskaryosis) and you have high-risk HPV infection and abnormal cells on the smear test, you’ll be invited to go for a colposcopy examination. This is a way of looking closely at your cervix to see if you need treatment.

What can a colposcopy test show?

Tests performed at the colposcopy examination may show cell changes known as cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN). The test results may therefore refer to CIN. CIN is not cancer, but CIN cells can sometimes become cancerous. There are three grades of CIN which describe the changes to the cervical cells lining your cervix:

  • CIN 1: mild cell changes
  • CIN 2: moderate cell changes
  • CIN 3: severe cell changes

If you need treatment for CIN, you’ll usually be seen in an outpatient clinic, which means that you won’t need to stay overnight in a hospital. You can read more information about treatment for CIN.

What happens after treatment for CIN?

About six months after treatment for CIN, you’ll have another cervical screening test. You’ll be tested for HPV also if your cervical screening test result is normal, or shows borderline change or low grade dyskaryosis.

If these test results are normal, with no borderline change or low grade dyskaryosis and show no high risk HPV infection, you’ll be invited back for cervical screening in three years' time.

If the cervical screening test result is high grade dyskaryosis (moderate) or worse, or high-risk HPV infection is found, you’ll be referred for another colposcopy examination.

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Further information:

Page last reviewed: 08/03/2014

Next review due: 07/03/2016