Understanding your smear result.

Low grade abnormalities.

ASCUS. (Atypical cells of uncertain significance)

  • Cells have small changes and it is difficult to assess whether the cells are normal or bordering on abnormal.


  • Some cells are mildly abnormal. Most of the cell changes are linked to the presence of HPV (human papillomavirus  infection). The majority of these changes will return to normal by themselves over 1 -2 years and so usually a repeat smear in 6-12 months is recommended.

Colposcopy is recommended for investigation of low grade abnormalities

  •  If this occurs on more than one occasion
  • If a woman has ever had treatment for abnormal smears in the past
  • If it occurs in a women over the age of 30 who also tests positive for high risk HPV.

High grade abnormalities.

CIN2 and CIN3.

  • Some cells appear to have more serious changes. There is a greater risk that abnormal cells, if not treated, could develop into cervical cancer.  A colposcopy and biopsy is necessary.
  • The pathologist will examine the biopsy sample to determine the degree of abnormality. CIN2 occurs when approximately half of the thickness of the surface of the cervix is affected and CIN3 occurs when the majority of the surface of the cervix is affected.
  • Neither of these conditions is cancer but they may progress to a cancer and so removal of these abnormal cells is recommended.