What is a colposcopy?
Colposcopy is a procedure that is performed in order to investigate patients who have an abnormal smear test so as to decide if treatment is needed.
If you are referred for a colposcopy by your GP, it does not mean that you have cancer. You have been advised to have a colposcopy examination because your smear test showed signs of changes in the cells of your cervix (the neck of the womb). These cell changes give early warning that cervical cancer might develop if the cells are left untreated. The colposcopy examination allows the Doctor or Nurse to decide if you need treatment.
During the colposcopy, the Doctor will gently insert a speculum into your vagina. This will enable your Doctor to use a microscope called a colposcope, to take a closer look at the cervix and identify any abnormal changes or cells present. The procedure itself is not painful and usually takes about 5 minutes.
If anything unusual is identified during the colposcopy, the Doctor may remove a sample of the tissue for further testing. This is also known as a Cervical Biopsy.
Referrals are accepted from:
- Smear takers
- Other colposcopy clinics
Smear test results are required along with a referral form. Alternatively the patient can bring these to their appointment.
Patients presenting with high grade cytological abnormalities which are confirmed by colposcopic examination are offered LLETZ during the same appointment. LLETZ (Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone) is a treatment which is regularly used for the removal of any abnormal cells.
Reasons for referral could include:
- Invasive neoplasia on smear
- Suspicious looking cervix
- Post coital bleeding 35yrs +
- Cervical smear showing HSIL
- Cervical smear showing LSIL
- Severe or borderline glandular dyskaryosis
- Previous smear test showing LSIL and follow-up smear result shows ASC-US
- 3 consecutive smears showing ASU-US
- 3 abnormal smears in 10 years with no previous colposcopy
- 3 inadequate smears
- 3 borderline smears
- 3 inflammatory smears
- 3 unsatisfactory smears
- Indicated by the Cytopathologist
An accessible service
Both GPs and the patient will receive their results from colposcopy, biopsies and treatments within 10 working days. This will also include a future management plan for any treatment required.
Post appointment women can also call the clinic for over the phone advice and triage.