Most results show no changes
You should get a letter with the specimen results within six weeks, but sometimes it can take longer. Approximately 95 out of 100 specimens have no cell changes and are judged to be normal. The results are sent directly to your home from the laboratory.
If the specimen had been taken at a gynaecological clinic or birth control clinic, the person who had taken the sample is most often the one responsible for providing you with the results.
In unusual cases the specimen cannot be analysed – for example, if there is too much menstrual blood in it. You will then be summoned to have a new specimen taken.
If the specimen contains cell changes
If the specimen shows cell changes of any type, it is investigated further. If you have minor cell changes and are between the ages of 30 and 35 (depending on where you live in Sweden), the specimen is usually analysed immediately with a virus test. It checks whether you have a type of HPV – human papillomavirus – that is a risk for cervical cancer. Only those who have this type of HPV at this time need to come in for an examination. If you have minor cell changes that do not involve this virus, you will only need to have a new specimen taken one year later.
As far as all cell changes in women under 30 - 35 are concerned, nowadays an examination by a gynaecologist is recommended, but it may also be the case that you will be summoned to have a new sample taken by a midwife. It is also recommended that women over 30 - 35 who have other cell changes other than the most minor should be examined by a gynaecologist.
Taking cell specimens is not complete protection against cancer
Regular cell specimen check-ups provide strong protection against cervical cancer, but it is not exhaustive. You may get cervical cancer despite having normal cell samples, but it is highly unusual. Apart from having regular screenings, you should always seek medical care if you experience bleeding during sex, if you bleed repeatedly between menstrual periods, or if you experience bleeding after menopause.
You can always phone the healthcare helpline for advice on where to go.
Taking samples and getting results can be worrying
Taking a cell specimen can feel stressful. For example, you could feel worried while waiting for the results; it may be a good idea to think that undergoing a screening is a way of protecting yourself against cancer. Detected may to a large extent be removed through a simple procedure, so you may avoid cancer in the future.
It’s very rare for a specimen to indicate that cancer has developed. The rare occasions where cancer has been detected through cell specimen check-ups, they have been at such an early stage that treatment was simpler, with fewer side effects. The disorder had been detected through a screening and the risk of serious illness was thereby reduced.
You decide whether samples are saved
Specimens that are taken are usually saved. For example, new specimens may be compared to older ones, and various follow-ups can be performed. Additionally, the specimens may be used for research or other purposes approved by a research ethics committee. If you don’t want the specimens saved for the future, you may inform the person taking the sample, and it will be destroyed later.
Information about taking samples is also saved in a quality register which is used for improving health care. If you don’t want your information to be used for this, you may demand that it be deleted.