If you’ve had an abnormal smear test, you may be wondering what to do next. If you’re put off by the long waiting lists for a colposcopy on the NHS, a private colposcopy could be the answer.
What is a colposcopy?
Quite simply, a colposcopy is a more detailed examination of the cervix which usually occurs after an abnormal smear tests. It’s a bit like a smear test. The doctor performing the colposcopy will take a closer look via specialist microscope at the cervix to discover any abnormality. As with a smear test, a speculum is used – the difference is there’s a high-powered microscope too. Early diagnosis can help prevent an abnormality from becoming cancer.
Are all colposcopies the same?
No. You should check with your clinician that they are using DYSIS – this is a new technology called Dynamic Spectral Imaging that takes accurate measurements through the course of the examination. DYSISmap and the documentation images and tools for tracking help doctors provide very accurate results for patients. Research has shown that DySIS can increase sensitivity in discovering cervical cancer at its earliest stages. DySIS is used as a standard practice at Twenty-five Harley Street.
What happens during a colposcopy with DYSIS?
As with any other examination of the vagina, you’ll need to get undressed from the waist down. You’ll lie back in a special chair, with supports for your legs. Once you are relaxed and happy for the doctor to proceed, the speculum will be placed inside the vagina and gently opened, and after a liquid is applied so any abnormalities can be seen, a light is used to take a look at the cervix. Sometimes a punch biopsy is taken, so the skin can be analysed by the lab. There may be a moment of brief discomfort, but most women find it straightforward and painless. Any significant changes are caught by the high-powered camera with a series of images. These are then stored in the on-board patient database creating an accurate and standardised documentation which doctors can look back and check changes.
Do I need to make any special arrangements for a colposcopy?
No, it’s just the same as having a regular smear test. As with smear tests, it is better that you’re not menstruating during the time of the test. Mid-cycle – so two weeks from your last monthly period - would generally be the best time for a colposcopy.
What happens after a colposcopy?
If the doctor has observed there are abnormal cells during the colposcopy, you may be able to receive treatment immediately. However, if you had a biopsy you might need to wait x weeks. About 40% of women need no further treatment after a colposcopy, the remainder may require treatment to require treatment to remove the abnormal cells.
Is a colposcopy really necessary?
If you have been advised you need a colposcopy, it is very important you get one done. Three women out 100,000 die from cervical cancer every year in the UK. Detecting cervical cancer in its early stages has a significant effect on survival rates.