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Treatments

If a colposcopy finds abnormal cells in your cervix, treatment to remove these cells may be recommended.

There's sometimes a risk these cells could become cancerous if left untreated. Removing them means they won't be able to turn into cancer.

The aim of treatment is to remove the abnormal cells while minimising damage to healthy tissue. Usually an area about the size of a fingertip is removed.

When treatment is carried out

Treatment to remove abnormal cells from your cervix can be done at the same time as a colposcopy if it's obvious that some of the cells in your cervix are abnormal.

But sometimes treatment can't be done on the same day.

For example, you may need to wait until you get your biopsy result a few weeks later if it's not immediately clear whether you have abnormal cells in your cervix.

Types of treatment

There are several ways abnormal cells can be removed from the cervix. Some of the main treatments are outlined below.

LLETZ

The most common treatment is large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ). It:

LLETZ is also called loop diathermy, loop cone, loop biopsy or loop excision.

Cone biopsy

A cone biopsy is done less often than LLETZ. It:

Other treatments

Abnormal cells in the cervix can also be treated with:

After treatment

You can often go home to rest soon after the treatment is finished. Most women feel well enough to return to work and most normal activities the next day.

You'll usually be advised to avoid:

You'll also be advised to have another cervical screening test 6 months after treatment, to check for abnormal cells and the human papilloma virus (HPV).

If HPV isn't found, you won't need to be screened again for another 3 years. But if HPV or significant cell changes are found, you'll be referred for another colposcopy.

Risks and side effects

Common side effects of treatment include:

There's also a small risk of more serious complications, such as:

In most cases, the benefit of treatment will outweigh these risks. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or would like to know more about the potential risks of treatment.