Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Screening for cervical cancer: a new scope for general practitioners? Results of the first year of colposcopy in general practice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 23 May 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:1326
  1. J Chomet


    A survey was carried out over one year of all the women who attended a colposcopy clinic in a general practice. During the year 1254 women underwent cytological screening in the practice and 197 of these underwent colposcopy. Of 79 women with abnormal smears that suggested cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, 62 (79%) were confirmed by biopsy to have cervical premalignancy. In addition, the remaining 118 women with normal or inflammatory smears underwent colposcopy either because of their history or because they requested the investigation. A general underestimate of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia when cytology alone was used was discovered. Seven out of 28 women with inflammatory smears were found to have important cervical premalignancy. Mildly dyskaryotic smears led to a falsely reassuring estimate of the degree of severity of cervical lesions. Seven out of 13 patients who underwent colposcopy because they were thought to be at high risk of neoplasia because of a history of genital warts, unexplained recurrent cystitis, heroin abuse, or immunosuppression had cervical intraepithelial neoplasia proved at biopsy. This report shows that both in screening for and in the follow up of known cervical disease a normal smear cannot guarantee normal pathology. Diagnostic colposcopy is a valuable complementary investigation that could be carried out in a general practice.