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Colposcopy London

Private Colposcopy in London

What is Colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a procedure undertaken after abnormal cells are found during cervical screening. A colposcope is used to examine the cervix's lower part of the womb.

One predominant type of cancer - cervical cancer, develops from the abnormal cells in the cervix. These cells are not always harmful and can go away on their own, but in some cases, they develop into cancer of the cervix if they are not treated. At Medical Express Clinic, we offer colposcopies for women and recommend the right treatment after discussing it with you.

Colposcopy

Who Needs A Colposcopy?

Being asked to carry out a colposcopy doesn’t mean that you have cancer. It’s unlikely for abnormal cells to develop into cancer while waiting to get a colposcopy done. A colposcopy is always done after a cervical screening. Your doctor will refer you to a private colposcopy clinic in London within a few weeks after your cervical screening if any of the following happens.

  • The cells in your cervix are abnormal.
  • The cervix doesn't look healthy to the doctor or the nurse who carried out the cervical screening.
  • The cervical screening result was not clear after many screenings.

It is also possible to do a colposcopy examination to find out the cause of bleeding after sex or any other unusual vaginal bleeding.

Preparing For a Colposcopy

If you have been asked to carry out a colposcopy, there are certain things you need to avoid for at least 24 hours before your colposcopy examination to avoid a wrong result. This include:

  • Sex.
  • Vaginal medication.
  • Lubricants.
  • Vaginal creams.
  • Tampons.

It would be best to have sanitary towels handy because there may be slight bleeding or discharge after the procedure. You wouldn’t have to worry about avoiding certain types of food. Before a colposcopy, there are no eating restrictions, so you can eat whatever you want.

You need to be comfortable during your colposcopy so that you can contact your colposcopy clinic before your appointment if

  • You are pregnant. A colposcopy can always be done during pregnancy, but samples cannot be taken from your cervix and treatment cannot be done.
  • You will be on your period on the day of the colposcopy. You may decide to postpone the procedure or still get it done - the choice is yours.

The Procedure: What Happens During A Colposcopy?

Colposcopy Clinic

The colposcopy is done in a clinic. The procedure lasts for 15 – 20 minutes, and you will be free to go home and get on with your normal activities.

In the private clinic, a Gynaecologist carries out the colposcopy procedure. During the procedure:

  • The colposcopist will ask you to undress from the waist downwards and lie down in a special chair to support the legs.
  • A speculum will be inserted and used to gently open your vagina.
  • The doctor will use a colposcope to look into your cervix. The doctor is kept about 30cm away from the vagina - this allows the colposcopist to see the cells in your cervix properly.
  • A special fluid is applied to the cervix to help make the abnormal cells more obvious. The fluid may cause a mild tingling or burning sensation after it is applied.
  • The doctor may remove a small sample of tissue from the cervix for further examination in the laboratory.

Suppose the abnormal cells in your cervix are obvious during the colposcopy. In that case, you may be offered immediate treatment to remove the cells or wait until your biopsy result is ready.

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What To Expect After The Procedure?

After a colposcopy:

  • You will be free to go home right after the procedure whenever you want to.
  • You may notice colour vaginal discharge or bleeding if tissue samples were taken from your cervix, but this should stop after 3 days.
  • You should wait until the bleeding or discharge ceases before using tampons, vagina creams or lubricants and having sex.
  • You can resume your regular activities like work or driving immediately after the procedure.

What Are The Risks And Side Effects Of Colposcopy?

Colposcopy is usually a safe procedure and it doesn't lead to any severe complications; however, some women may experience some of the following side effects:

  • Brownish discharge from the liquid used to highlight the abnormal cells.
  • Light bleeding that should stop after 3 - 5 days
  • Pain and a little discomfort, especially when a biopsy was done.

All these side effects should not be severe or last for long. If your bleeding is heavier than your normal period or the discharge is smelly or if you have severe stomach pain, you should contact your nearest clinic immediately.

Results

In most cases, the doctor will provide the result of the procedure right away, but when a biopsy is done, the results may take about 4 – 8 weeks.

The result may either be normal or abnormal.

If the result is normal:

It means that there were no abnormal cells in the tissue sample taken from the cervix and no treatment is required.

It is important to continue with cervical screening if the abnormal cells become apparent in the future. The screening will be scheduled for 3 – 5 years depending on the woman’s age. This outcome is usually found in about 4 in every 10 women who get the procedure done.

If the result is abnormal:

pap smear

It means that cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) or cervical glandular intraepithelial neoplasia (CGIN) cells were found in the cervix. This doesn't mean that you have cervical cancer, but there is a risk of developing this cancer if the cells are not treated. This result is usually seen in about 6 in every 10 women.

These abnormal cells are mostly determined during the colposcopy procedure, but a biopsy is needed to determine the risk of these cells becoming cancerous. The number used after the cell name determines the chances of the cells developing into cancer cells. A higher number means there is a higher risk of becoming cancerous.

A biopsy can show any of these results.

  • CIN1: When these cells are found, it means that it is very unlikely for the cancerous cell to develop, and they are more likely to clear up on their own without treatment. You will be asked to come back for cervical screening in 12 months to check if the cells have cleared up.
  • CIN2: These cells have a moderate chance of becoming cancerous, and treatment is usually needed to remove them.
  • CIN3: They are more likely to become cancerous, and treatment is necessary to remove them.
  • CGIN: These cells have a high chance of developing into cervical cancer and must be treated to be removed.

There are times that colposcopy and biopsy may find cancerous cells outright, but this happens rarely.

Treatment Of Abnormal Cells

The next thing that is done after discovering a high-risk abnormal cell is treatment. The purpose of treatment is to remove abnormal cells while causing minimal damage to healthy cells. The abnormal cells are usually the size of the fingertip.

Sometimes treatment is done alongside the colposcopy procedure, especially when a biopsy is not required. There are certain times when you will have to wait for your biopsy result before you can undergo any of the following types of treatment.

  • LLETZ

Loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) is one of the most common treatments for abnormal cervical cells. It is also called a loop biopsy, loop excision, loop cone, or diathermy. It can be done while carrying out a colposcopy, but a local anaesthetic is needed to numb the cervix before the treatment. Going home after the treatment is possible - an overnight stay is not necessary.

LLETZ involves using a thin wire loop heated with an electric current to remove the abnormal cells.

  • Cone biopsy

This option of treatment is not as common as LLETZ. It is used when a large area of the cervix is affected and needs a general aesthetic to be carried out.

This treatment is usually carried out when you are asleep. It is a minor operation involving making a cone-shaped incision on the cervical tissue containing abnormal cells to remove them. In some cases, you might request to stay overnight at the clinic.

Other common treatments include:

  • Laser treatment: This method uses a laser to identify the affected area and destroy them.
  • Cold coagulation: The specialist uses a heat source to burn off the areas that contain the abnormal cells.
  • Cryotherapy: It is used for the treatment of minor cell changes. The abnormal cells are frozen and then destroyed.
  • Hysterectomy: It is the removal of the womb. This option is only considered when abnormal cells have been found more than once, the cells are very abnormal, or you have passed childbearing age.

What to expect after treatment?

After treatment, you can go home to rest or stay overnight at the clinic. You may be advised to:

  • Use only sanitary pads instead of tampons for the first 4 weeks.
  • Avoid sex for 4 weeks
  • Avoid exercising for the first two weeks
  • Avoid driving for 24 hours after the treatment, especially if you had a general anaesthetic used.
  • Get another cervical screening done after 6 months to check for abnormal cells and HPV (human papillomavirus).

You will not need to be screened for another three years if neither HPV nor abnormal cells are found.

Are there risks and side effects of treatment?

There are a few risks associated with the treatment of abnormal cells, but they are nothing compared to its benefits. These risks include:

  • Brownish watery vaginal discharge that may last for about 4 weeks.
  • Light bleeding from the vagina.
  • Mild pain is like period pains. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can take care of the pain.

Some other serious complications may arise:

  • There is a slight increase in the possibility of having a premature birth in the future - usually before the 37th week of pregnancy.
  • Infection may lead to persistent bleeding, continuous stomach pain, and smelly vagina discharge.

If you want to schedule your consultation or have any questions about colposcopy treatment and cost, please call our doctors at 02074991991 or book an appointment online.

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