Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN

Recurrence of abnormal cells

Treatment for CIN is very effective and, in most cases, successful first time. Many of the women we interviewed, though, were anxious about recurrence after treatment and would have liked more information about it.

A few women we spoke interviewed did have a recurrence of abnormal cells after treatment for CIN3, and this was often found at a follow-up appointment. Most were treated again by LLETZ.

Some of the women who had a recurrence said they were given sufficient information and felt reassured that the abnormal cells would be treated quickly and successfully. Others, though, were very disappointed and upset when they were told they would need more treatment.

Some of the women we talked to compared the treatment they’d had in the past with their second experience. Jane had a recurrence exactly twenty years after her first diagnosis. She preferred having a LLETZ to laser treatment and said, second time around, she was given more information and empathy. Debbie, though, was disappointed with the information and care she was given. She had a LLETZ twice because there were no clear margins after her first treatment. A few years later, she was treated by cone biopsy.

Ruth had abnormal cells several times over fourteen years or so. It was a ‘constant worry’ for her and, later, she was also treated for VIN3. VIN stands for ‘Vulval Intraepithelial Neoplasia’ and means there are precancerous changes in the skin cells of the vulva.

Most women said their anxieties about recurrence lessened over time, the longer they had been clear. They were pleased to have regular follow-up care because they felt that, if they did have abnormal cells again, these would be found and treated early (see ‘Follow-up care’).

HPV as a ‘test of cure’
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme is introducing an HPV ‘Test of Cure’ for women who have undergone treatment for cervical abnormalities (CIN 1, 2 or 3). When women return for follow up screening, after treatment, if the test shows normal, borderline or mild screening results, the sample will also be tested for HPV. If HPV is detected or the screening test shows an abnormality, women will be referred again to colposcopy. If the screening result is normal and the HPV result is negative, women will return to routine recall for cervical screening every 3 years. This new policy aims to reduce the need for up to ten years of annual cervical screening.

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Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated May 2014.


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