The results of the screening will be sent to you by post
Your cell sample is analysed in a medical laboratory. Your age and previous samples determine how your sample is analysed and assessed. The results are sent to your home address by post within about 3 months of the test.
Most results show that there is no sign of abnormal cell changes. You will be invited for your next screening after three or seven years, depending on your age. In a few cases, the sample cannot be analysed, in which case you will be invited to do a new test.
If the cell sample contains HPV
The results may show HPV with no signs of abnormal changes to cells. No more investigation is needed until the next screening. It is important to do a screening the next time you are invited, though, to check that the HPV infection has healed. Depending on the type of HPV, you will be invited again after 1½ - 3 years. Read more about HPV further down.
If the sample shows signs of cell changes
Most cell changes that are detected are small and many of them heal without any treatment. Others need to be treated to ensure that they do not develop into cancer. If cell changes that need treatment are detected, in most cases there is plenty of time since it usually takes several years for cell changes to develop into cancer.
If the sample shows that you have small cell changes but no HPV, you do not normally require more checks. You will be invited to a new screening in three years’ time.
If the sample shows that you have small cell changes and HPV, you will need to be examined by a gynaecologist. Your details will be sent to a gynaecology clinic near your home and you will be invited to have a check-up.
What is HPV?
HPV, human papilloma virus, is a very common virus with many variants. Most are harmless, but some can cause cell changes that can result in cervical cancer. Most people have HPV at some time in their lives, but since it does not give any symptoms we rarely notice it and it usually heals by itself. In some cases it can cause cell changes that develop into cervical cancer.
How can I protect myself from HPV?
There is an HPV vaccine which, given at an early age, gives very good protection from certain types of HPV, but it does not give complete protection. That is why it is important to go to every screening you are invited to.
A condom provides a certain degree of protection from HPV, but not 100% since the virus may be elsewhere - nevertheless, it is much better than no protection at all.
Smokers have a higher risk of cell changes and cervical cancer from HPV infections. If you stop smoking the cell changes can decrease and heal faster. There is help available to quit smoking if you are motivated. Contact your local health centre or the Quit-Smoking-Line on 020-84 00 00.