Understanding your smear

Most women dread the smear test. After the brief but intimate encounter with thr speculum, most women given the ‘all-clear’ are happy to forget about the risk of cervivlcal cancer for another two or three years and get on with their lives. But new research suggest that most women misunderstand the meaning of ‘normal’ smear result.

A normal smear result does not mean, as many as women think, that there is no risk of developing cervical cancer. It simply means that there is a low risk. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that only 52 per cent of women correctly understood that a normal smear result meant there was still risk of cancer. They suggested doctors adding a simple statement to test results to state a ‘normal result’ means you are at low risk, and that you still need to return for regular smear.

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