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Your doctor or nurse will often be able to tell you what they've found straight after you have a colposcopy.

Your results will usually be either normal or abnormal.

If it's obvious that you have abnormal cells, you may have treatment to remove the cells immediately.

If it's not obvious, your doctor or nurse will take a biopsy. This biopsy is a small sample of tissue from your cervix. It will be examined in a lab.

Normal result

This means no abnormal cells were found. You do not need any immediate treatment.

You will be told to either:

  • come back for a follow-up colposcopy review - this is in case abnormal cells develop later on
  • continue with cervical screening as usual - you'll have your next test in 3 years, regardless of your age

Abnormal result

It is not unusual to find abnormal cells in the cervix during a colposcopy. This is not cancer. But it could turn into cancer if you do not have treatment.

If a colposcopy confirms that you have abnormal cells, a biopsy will also be done.

This is to see:

  • what the risk of these cells becoming cancerous is
  • if you need treatment

Types of abnormal biopsy results

The different types of abnormal biopsy results are:

  • CIN 1
  • CIN 2
  • CIN 3
  • CGIN

CIN stands for cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia.

CGIN stands for cervical glandular intra-epithelial neoplasia.

CIN 1

It's unlikely the cells will become cancerous. They may go away on their own.

Usually, you will not need treatment. You'll normally have another screening test in 12 months to check the abnormal cells are 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.

Read more about treatments for abnormal cells of the cervix.

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.

page last reviewed: 30/12/2019
next review due: 30/12/2022