Hello Frankaloza and thank you for your post.
You appear to have posted twice, so I am sorry for any delay replying to your post.
It is important to say that you are very unlikely to have cervical cancer, and as long as you attend for cervical screening you are very unlikely to develop cervical cancer.
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme (NHSCSP) is about prevention. The idea is to detect abnormal cells and then further assess them to decide whether to monitor until things go back to normal, or treat to prevent cancer from developing in the future. Not everyone with abnormal cells goes on to develop cancer. The NHSCSP follows internationally recognised guidelines and women are automatically followed up. If you attend a gynaecologist privately for an abnormal smear the examination and test results are not recorded in your NHSCSP record. There is no difference between private and NHS management of abnormal cells, and while you will be advised about follow up this is less likely to be done automatically.
It is only in the past few years that HPV testing has been introduced so it is unlikely that you were tested for HPV in 2010. It may help to explain about HPV.
The majority of high grade abnormal cell changes on the cervix detected by cervical screening are caused by HPV. Low grade changes are not always linked to HPV. It is not possible to tell what the cause of your low grade smear was in 2010.
HPV is a common infection and it is estimated that most people who are sexually active will get HPV at some stage in their lives. Most people will have no symptoms and their immune system will clear it up in a year or two without them ever knowing they had it. It is not possible to tell when a person got HPV or how long they have had it. While condoms offer some protection against HPV they are not a complete protection. Abnormal cell changes caused by HPV can go back to normal if a person’s immune system clears HPV, this is more likely if the changes are low grade.
HPV can persist (not clear) in some women and if this causes high grade abnormal changes these may develop further into cancer (over years and years). Not all women with high grade abnormal cells go on to develop cancer. But as we do not know which women are more at risk, all women with high grade changes are offered treatment. Low grade changes are usually not treated unless they persist (don’t go away) over a period of time. It is not known what causes persistent HPV but it is more common in people who smoke as this may affect their immune system. However, it is not possible to say if this is the situation in your case.
Men are thought to be less affected by HPV, your partner’s immune system may well have cleared any HPV he was exposed to. If you meet a new partner he may also be immune, and if not immune is likely to develop immunity. There is no generally available test for men.
There is more information about HPV on our website on the link here.
Colposcopy examination is done to have a closer look at the cervix and detect the area of abnormality on your cervix causing the abnormal smear. If the colposcopist finds that there is an area that may be abnormal on your cervix a biopsy is taken. This is to have a closer look at the tissue and abnormal cells. The classification system used to describe the level of abnormality is called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). If you have low grade changes (CIN 1) on biopsy you will be advised to have a repeat smear in a year’s time. If you have high grade changes (CIN 2 or CIN 3) you will be advised to have a colposcopy treatment to remove the small area of abnormal cells on the cervix. You can read more about the different types of treatments used here.
I am sorry as I can appreciate that this is a lot of information to take in but I hope that it puts your mind at rest. If you are unsure about any of this information or have any more questions you are welcome to get back to us on the forum, or give us a call us on 0808 800 4040. We are here from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
With kind regards,