Private Smear Test London

Pap Smear test

A pap smear test is an investigation performed to detect precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix. These types of cells are termed abnormal, and if left untreated, could develop into severe health problems, such as cervical cancer. Early detection and treatment of the cells can help reduce their number, combat the condition or prevent its occurrence. You may hear your doctor call the test a Papanicolaou test, pap test or smear test, they all mean the same thing. A smear test should not be mistaken for a cancer test; it just detects abnormal cells that may develop into cancer cells.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that typically affects cells in the cervix of sexually active women between the ages of 25 and 49. The cervix is the neck of the womb; it connects the uterus to the vagina and opens up during labour to allow passage of the baby. The cervix is lined by a membrane and — it is the cells in this membrane which can develop into precancerous cells. When left untreated, it is these cells that develop into cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer can occur from exposure to a sexually transmitted infection known as human papillomavirus (HPV), especially when the woman has not been vaccinated against the virus. It is one of the most common types of gynaecological cancers. In the United Kingdom, girls are vaccinated against HPV routinely as part of a national health initiative.

According to the World Health Organisation, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. It is estimated to represent about 6.6% of all female cancers as of 2018. Recent studies have shown that about 75% of women diagnosed with the condition survive it, and there is a survival rate of 85% for women under 40.

Who should get a smear test?

Cervical cancer can develop in women of all ages, especially those who are sexually active. Women between the age of 25 and 64 are advised to get a smear test done once in 3 to 5 years. For women above 50, the test can be done once every five years. Usually, your GP will invite you to have a pap smear test when you are due or you can get your private smear test London at our Harley Street clinic. Even if you are no longer sexually active, you should still get a pap test done regularly.

For women below 25 years, regular cervical screening is not necessary because it is common for abnormal cells to develop in the cervix, but they go away by themselves. If the cells are treated in this group of women, it could cause complications in the future.

As a virgin, the risk of getting cervical cancer is very low, so it may not be necessary to get a private smear test.

Are you thinking about a private smear test?

Having a pap smear test is very important. If you have decided or are yet to decide to get one done, it is important to know and understand the benefits and risks involved to help you make an informed decision.

Pros

  • The test can help identify potential cancer cells become harmful. Over the years, about 3000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer, but since the introduction of the national cervical screening programme, the number of cervical cancer diagnosis has been halved.

Cons

  • Just like other medical tests. It is not always 100%. It is possible for you GP to miss some cells and your results may show normal cells when there are abnormal cells in your cervix.
  • Your result may show mild cell changes that could clear up on their own. If this happens, you may still be administered a treatment that is not needed.

Preparing for your pap test

If you want to book an appointment to get your private smear test done, it is best to choose a day when you are not on your period, preferably halfway through your cycle. Menstrual blood can make degrade the sample quality and affect your results. If you are on any contraceptives, it is best to abstain from sex for 24 hours prior to your private smear test London because chemicals in spermicide, lubricating gels, and condoms can interfere with the test results.

How is a pap smear test carried out?

A smear test is simply a procedure that is used to examine how healthy a woman’s cervix is. It involves a collection of cells from the cervix for close examination. The procedure is painless, so you should not be scared. The pap smear process takes about 10 – 20 minutes, but the actual test takes about 2 to 3 minutes. During the test, you will be asked to lie on your back on a couch with your legs bent and apart. The doctor or nurse will insert a speculum into your vagina; the speculum will be widened so the doctor can see your cervix and a small soft brush is used to collect cells from the cervix. Your doctor will put the cells in a small jar that contains a liquid sample before sending it to the laboratory for closer examination.

After the pap test, you can go on with your normal activities. It’s normal if you notice light bleeding afterwards. You should see your GP if you have heavy bleeding or severe pains afterward.

Getting your result

The test results are usually ready in two weeks, but your nurse will notify you to know when you will get it. Your result will be sent to the clinic, reviewed by the clinic doctor and disemminated to you by your chosen means. If you do not get the results after 2 weeks, you should contact your clinic or GP.

If your result is normal, you will be invited after 3 to five years for a routine screening depending on your age.

A result may be ‘unsatisfactory ‘or ‘inadequate’ - this means that the cells in the sample taken were insufficient or the sample was not clear enough to get a definite result. If this is the case with your results, you will be asked to repeat the test after three months.

Getting a result that shows you have abnormal cells does not mean that you have cancer. It just means your cervical cells are abnormal. What happens in your cervix with time depends on how abnormal the cells are or the level of change in the cell.

Mild cervical cell changes

A result with benign or borderline changes usually doesn’t develop to become cancer. Most times, they return to normal on their own without treatment, but you will need to be checked frequently to make sure that cells are normal again. Your sample will still be checked for high-risk HPV. One of two things will happen when you get tested for high-risk HPV.

  • You will be recommended to have a further test known as colposcopy to observe the cervix more closely if you have the high-risk HPV present in your sample. We can perform a colposcopy at the clinic, so if you need this service, please just ask.
  • If there are no high-risk HPV in your sample, you will be asked to only get your normal routine screenings.

Moderate to severe changes

This result does not mean you have cancer. It only means that the abnormal cells are less likely to return to normal cells on their own, so treatment is usually needed.

Pregnancy and smear test

If you are pregnant, it is advisable to postpone any routine screening until you have given birth, especially if your previous pap tests showed no abnormal cells. If you had an abnormal cell during your previous screening, your nurse, midwife, or GP may ask you to have some more tests done like colposcopy at about 3 – 6 weeks into your pregnancy or wait until you deliver your baby depending on your condition.

Medical Express Clinic offers quality health care services at Harley Street, Marylebone, London. Our services include a private smear test. Call us today on 02074991991 or send us an email at info@medicalexpressclinic.co.uk to get a pap smear test.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is HPV primary screening?

HPV primary screening is a new addition to the regular cervical screening process. The nurse or GP will first take samples from your cervix, but instead of examining it as usual for any change, it will be tested for specific types of high-risk HPV.

HPV is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. If you are not infected with HPV, it is unlikely that you will develop cancer of the cervix. If HPV is detected after an HPV primary screening, the cells will be observed under a microscope to check if there are abnormal changes.

If you have HPV and your cells are normal, your GP will invite you to the clinic to check if the infection has cleared up. In most people with strong immune systems, the infection gets cleared on its own, but if the infection persists, your chances of developing cancer is greatly increased. This means that you will be called back to the hospital within a year to repeat the test.

If your results show that you have both abnormal cell and HPV in your cervix, it does not mean you have cancer of the cervix. You will be referred to get a colposcopy done to further examine the cervix. Different types of changes can be found, and each of them has specific treatments.

Can a pap smear test detect if I have an infection?
Do I need a pap smear test if I’m not currently sexually active?
How are abnormal cells in the cervix treated?
Why are there cut-off agers for screening?
What is the cost of Smear test?
How much a HPV test costs?
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