After a colposcopy, your doctor or nurse will often be able to tell you what they've found straight away.
If they take a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue to be examined in a lab), you may need to wait up to 6 weeks to get your results.
The results will be either:
Your doctor or nurse may use the terms 'CIN' or 'CGIN' when discussing your biopsy result. This is the medical name for abnormal cells.
This means no abnormal cells were found. You don't need any immediate treatment.
You should continue with cervical screening as usual. This is in case abnormal cells develop later on.
Depending on your age, you'll have your next cervical screening test appointment in 3 or 5 years.
It is not unusual to find abnormal cells in the cervix following a colposcopy.
You may hear your doctor or nurse use one of these medical terms:
Cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN).
Cervical glandular intra-epithelial neoplasia (CGIN).
This isn't cancer, but there's a risk it could turn into cancer if untreated.
Abnormal cells may be detected during a colposcopy. But a biopsy will need to be done. This is to find out what the risk of these becoming cancerous is. It's also to determine whether you need treatment.
The different types of abnormal biopsy result and what they mean are:
- CIN 1 – it's unlikely the cells will become cancerous. They may go away on their own. Usually, you won't need treatment. But this will depend on lifestyle choices, such as whether you smoke or not, and your age. You'll have another screening test in 12 months to check they've gone
- CIN 2 – there's a moderate chance the cells will become cancerous. Treatment to remove them is usually recommended, but not always
- CIN 3 – there's a high chance the cells will become cancerous. Treatment to remove them is recommended
- CGIN – there's a high chance the cells will become cancerous. Treatment to remove them is recommended
In rare cases, a colposcopy and biopsy will find cervical cancer. If this happens, you'll be referred to a team of specialists to discuss treatment.