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Your colposcopy team may suggest cervical cell changes (abnormal cells) are monitored, instead of treated. This means you would be invited back for follow up appointments at your GP surgery or the colposcopy department to check the cell changes have cleared or got better.
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Monitoring is when cell changes are not treated. Instead, you are invited back for an appointment at your GP surgery or the colposcopy appointment department. This is to check the cell changes have cleared or got better, and that they not getting worse (progressing).
Monitoring is sometimes recommended instead of or as another option to treatment. The recommendations your colposcopy team make will be based on:
Monitoring is usually only recommended for:
At your monitoring appointment, you will have follow up tests. These tests will depend on the type of cell changes you have.
Most cases of CIN1 are monitored rather than treated . This is because it is more likely these cell changes will stay the same or go back to ‘normal’, rather than progress to a higher grade or cervical cancer.
You will be invited for a monitoring appointment 1 year after your colposcopy. This is usually at your GP surgery or at the colposcopy department in the hospital. You will have cervical screening (a smear test), which will check for high-risk HPV:
Remember that your colposcopy team will make recommendations based on your personal situation. They will only recommend monitoring if it is safe for you.
Your colposcopy team may recommend that you are monitored for CIN2. This is sometimes called ‘surveillance’ or ‘conservative management’. Monitoring is offered because many cases of CIN2 will stay the same or go back to ‘normal’, rather than progress to a higher grade or cervical cancer .
Current health guidelines on monitoring CIN2 says it can be offered if:
You will be invited for a monitoring appointment 6 months after your colposcopy. This will be at the colposcopy department in the hospital. It will usually involve a visual examination and a biopsy, like your original colposcopy appointment. You may also have a cervical screening test:
If CIN2 has stayed the same for 2 years, your colposcopy team will offer you treatment. It is important you feel comfortable and involved in any decisions, so try to ask all the questions you need.
Your colposcopy team should talk through all options for managing cell changes with you, including monitoring or treating. As part of that conversation, they should explain the risks and benefits of the different options.
The benefits of monitoring:
The possible risks of monitoring:
It is important to understand the benefits and risks of any options for managing cell changes, and that you feel comfortable with your decision. Your colposcopy team are the best people to talk to as they know your personal situation, but you may also find it helpful to talk with others on our Forum or call our Helpline on 0808 802 8000.
Your colposcopy team should talk through all your options and involve you in decisions about whether to monitor or treat cell changes. If they recommend one option over another, it should be because research and your personal situation means that option would have a better outcome for you.
If you have questions about monitoring in your situation, your colposcopy team will be able to have that conversation with you.
The best thing you can do is attend your monitoring appointments. By doing this, you will be getting the best care and your colposcopy team will be able to manage your cell changes properly.
If you smoke, you may want to try to stop. Cell changes are more likely to progress in those who smoke because:
The exact risk depends on how long you have smoked for and the number of cigarettes you smoke per day. If you would like to stop smoking, the NHS has programmes to support you:
It may feel difficult to decide how to manage cell changes. Remember that your colposcopy team are there to support you and answer any questions. It is important to take the time you need to make your decision.
If you need some extra support, you can give our free Helpline a call on 0808 802 8000. Our trained volunteers can talk through the different options or simply listen to how you’re feeling.
Sometimes connecting with others who have gone through a similar experience can be helpful. Our online Forum lets our community give and get support. You can read through the messages or post your own – whichever feels most comfortable.
If you have general questions about monitoring cell changes, our panel of medical experts may be able to help. They can’t give you answers about your individual situation or health – it’s best to speak with your colposcopy team for that.
Thank you to all the experts who checked the accuracy of this information, and the volunteers who shared their personal experience to help us develop it.
We write our information based on literature searches and expert review. For more information about the references we used, please contact [email protected]