Most abnormal results from screening tests show only very minor changes. The majority of these changes go back to normal on their own.
If your screening test shows that you have borderline or mild cell changes, what happens next depends on whether HPV testing is available in the area where you live. If HPV testing is available, you'll be given more information about this along with your screening invitation.
If HPV testing isn't available in the area where you live
Your GP may arrange for you to be referred for a colposcopy, or to have a second screening test in six months time – this will allow the cell changes to go back to normal on their own. If your second screening test shows that the cells have gone back to normal, you'll be asked to have two further screening tests at six-monthly intervals. If the cells remain normal, you'll be called again for screening in three or five years' time (depending on your age) to check that the cells are still normal.
If your second screening test shows abnormal cells, your GP or practice nurse will arrange for you to have a colposcopy, which is a more detailed examination of the cervix.
If HPV testing is available in the area where you live
Your screening sample will be tested for HPV. If high-risk HPV isn't found in your sample, you won't need any further tests. This is because the cell changes are likely to go back to normal on their own. You'll be called again for screening in three or five years' time (depending on your age).
If your sample is found to contain a high-risk type of HPV, you'll be referred for a colposcopy.
If you smoke, mild cell changes are less likely to go back to normal. If you'd like to give up smoking, your GP will be able to give you helpful advice. We also have a booklet called Giving up smoking, which we can send you.