The investigation and management of patients with an abnormal CST (cervical screening test) is one of the main areas of expertise offered at Northwest Women's Health. The majority of women referred with an abnormality will not have cancer. Previously the PAP smear was used to screen women for cervical cancer and its precursors - this has now been replaced by the CST - this test screens for 14 different subtypes of HPV (human papillomavirus) known to cause cervical cancer. If your CST result is negative, your next screening is done in 5 years.
What we are looking for mainly are the precancerous conditions that should be close to 100% treatable, thus preventing cancer.
Colposcopy is our main investigative tool – basically a microscope attached to a camera, allowing the patient to see what the specialist sees. Colposcopy helps identify the area of abnormality, and its extent. As part of the colposcopic examination, the vagina and vulva are also inspected thoroughly as HPV can also affect these areas.
From there we can recommend the appropriate method of treatment. This test is nothing to be afraid of, and causes minimal discomfort.
The first visit will confirm the diagnosis. Subsequently if treatment is required, it will be done at another time.