I'm petrified, sorry for the long post but here goes , I've been having bleeding in between periods for a good few months and my periods have gone from lasting 4-6 days to just 2 I've been to the GP and was referred for an ultrasound the day before my scan I got my smear results, it shows abnormal cells and also the HPV virus present, I've been referred to colposcopy, my smear really hurt , it's never before and with the abnormal results I'm so scared I have to wait for the results of the ultrasound. 16 years ago when I had my son and first smear it was abnormal for 5 years I was back and forth had a few biopsy 2 in the same week a cone and loop biopsy, I have been clear since until now, am I more at risk of cancer because of the past ? Why after all this time is it happening again? I'm feeling so lost
Thanks for posting a question. I am sorry to learn about your situation.
Many women are understandably concerned when they have an abnormal cervical cancer (smear test) result. But this does not usually mean that anything to serious is wrong. As you probably know the aim of the smear tests is to pick up abnormal cells which if left untreated for many years could change and become cervical cancer. Given that it commonly takes over 10 years for abnormal cervical cells to become cancerous, if they ever do, if you have attended regularly for cervical screening, cervical cancer is unlikely.
Although it is easier said than done, try not to be concerned about your smear test being a bit more painful this time. In my experience I can say that the amount of discomfort experienced can be variable. This is not necessarily just down to the person doing the test. It can be down to how the woman is on the day. If a woman is feeling a bit more anxious for whatever reason, the tension can make the procedure more uncomfortable. I don’t know your age but it can also be a bit more uncomfortable as women age.
I also don’t think that you can read too much into the change in your periods. While it is fair to say that cervical cancer can cause irregular menstrual bleeding there are many other reasons for this. Also it would be very unusual for cervical cancer to cause periods to last for a shorter period of time. Heavier and longer periods of bleeding is more likely. Bleeding after sex can also occur, but again there are other causes for this.
There is not a one size fits all answer as to why some women have abnormal cells again at a much later date. It is rarely possible to say exactly why one woman develops abnormal cervical cells and another does not. You mentioned HPV so I would imagine that you know that certain high risk strains of HPV can cause abnormal cell change that may develop into cervical cancer. HPV is picked up by skin to skin contact usually during sex. It is a very common virus and hard to avoid. You might have got rid of the HPV and have picked it up again form a sexual partner. Another possibility is that it never completely went away.
There is a lot that doctors do not understand about HPV. But there is a theory that in some women HPV reduces to undetectable and harmless levels. But it does not completely go away. This is called latent HPV and while it lays dormant it is not thought to be doing any harm. Occasionally for reasons that are not clear the latent HPV can get more active again and cause abnormal cell changes. So this is why it is important to keep up with cervical cancer screening.
You also wondered if you are more at risk of cancer because you had abnormal cervical cells in the past. If you had CIN3 some studies suggest that this could mean that you are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer, but it is important to stress that the risk of developing it still remains low. Also as I said previously it usually takes at least 10 years for it to develop, so if you have had regular screening I do not think that you need to be overly worried about cervical cancer now.
Until you have the results of the ultrasound and are seen at colposcopy I think it is normal to feel a little worried, but please try to remember that cervical cancer is uncommon here in the UK because we have screening. Picking up and monitoring or treating abnormal cervical cells can prevent cancer from developing.
I hope that this helps a little. Do get back to us if you have any other questions. If you would like to telephone our freephone number is 0808 800 4040. We are here from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am to 5pm.
All the best,
read my post for the Lumps person on the ' Pre diagnosis' area.
I have Stage 4 cancer and facing what comes. share your worries, get active, live fir the enjoyment of each day. Everyone on my chemo ward has been pretty fearless and thankful and oragmstic these past 10 weeks. we walk with death but we live life to the full.
Whatever you have healthwise, yiu can too.