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Pap smear- fast changes

3 Jan 2018 10:25

in July 2017 I had a smear test that came back showing I was positive for HPV but it did not show abnormal cells and I needed another smear in a years time. 


I have recenty moved to Australia where my GP has repeated my smear ( 5 months on) and the results show positive hPV and possible high grade sqarmous cells. I am needing to go for further tests but I’m confused how it can change from no abnormal cells in July to high grade within 5mths. 

Everythjng id read was that this was a slow developing cancer. I’m worried I have a severe strain of things are that moving so fast. 


Ive also been getting pain but I can’t determine if that’s ovulation and the past 2 months my periods have been a few days early. 


Thank you. I’m really anxious

Re: Pap smear- fast changes

3 Jan 2018 15:05 in response to Sarah2345

Hello Sarah and thanks for posting,

What you have read is correct. It does take a long time for abnormal cervical cells to develop into cancer, but not all do. If an HPV infection clears up, (which is usually does in a year or two), the cells can go back to normal.

High grade abnormal cells can develop quiet quickly following a HPV infection, but it takes a lot longer (years and years) for these cells to develop into cancer. So as the HPV has persisted, there is nothing unusual in high grade changes developing in the 5 months since your last smear result.

I expect the next step is to have a colposcopy which is a close examination of the cervix. And depending on what this shows a small tissue biopsy is often needed to get a complete picture. The biopsy is looking at the depth of the abnormal cells in the surface layer of skin.

Bear in mind that cervical screening is all 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. Treatment is usually a minor procedure to either destroy or excise a small amount of tissue. 

I don’t think the pain you have been experiencing is linked to your abnormal smear result. Smear results detect microscopic cell changes which don’t cause any symptoms. When smears are taken the cervix is seen with the naked eye and if anything looks abnormal a referral is made before the smear results come back. I imagine all was well when this was done.

I’m afraid I am not sure how cervical screening is organised in Australia. If you have any questions you could try contacting the Cancer Council Australia.

I hope this helps a bit,