Points to note after the Cervical Smear (Pap Smear) Test

Important:

It is common and normal to have slight vaginal bleeding in the first two days after the cervical smear test. If bleeding becomes severe or lasts for more than two days, please phone the Maternal and Child Health Centre or Woman Health Centre (WHC) for follow-up or seek medical advice from your family doctor.

Understanding the cervical smear result

  • A “negative” or “normal” result means that there are no abnormal cell changes detected in your cervical smear specimen, or detection of benign conditions which have no significant bearing on long-term health and do not require follow-up.*
  • A “positive” or “abnormal” result usually means that there are some changes in the cells of your cervix which may need further follow-up or investigation.  It does not necessarily mean that you already have cancer

Cervical screening is not 100% accurate

As with any other screening tests, the cervical screening test is not 100% accurate. Different researches have shown that there may be 5 to 20% inaccuracy.

The test may sometimes miss a real abnormality (false negative) or wrongly classify normal cells as abnormal (false positive).  Possible causes are:

  1. The quality of the cell sample is affected due to:
    • Before the test:
      • sexual intercourse;
      • use of pessaries or spermicides;
      • douching (shower and bath would not affect the quality);
    • During the test:
      • vaginal discharge caused by a vaginal infection;
      • Menstrual blood.
  2. Sample handling errors.
  3. Abnormal cervical cells are situated at a site which is difficult to reach inside the cervical canal.
  • Although cervical screening does not have 100% accuracy, this is not a cause for worry. Cervical cancer normally takes 5 to 10 years to develop.
  • REGULAR cervical screening can prevent the development of 90% or more of the cervical cancers.
  • Even if the previous smear is normal, women should still continue with regular cervical screening.

Booking your next Cervical Smear Test:

  • If you have received a letter showing a normal result, please book your next cervical smear appointment at least one month before the recommended due date.
  • Women aged 45 or above are advised to make an appointment after the 12th day of the menses.
  • Avoid vaginal pessary, coitus or vaginal douching two days before the test.

*Please seek advice from general outpatient clinic or private doctors if you have abnormal vaginal bleeding, discharge or other gynaecological concerns.

Please refer to the “Cervical Screening Programme” booklet or browse http://www.cervicalscreening.gov.hk for more information.

Cervical Screening Programme - Registration Notes

Notes to Applicant

  1. Eligibility: women who receive cervical screening may register with the Cervical Screening Programme.
  2. Registration is free of charge.
  3. With your test results provided to Cervical Screening Information System by the service providers and laboratories, privileges of joining the Programme include the following:
    • you can view your past test results in the Cervical Screening Information System through the internet (www.csis.gov.hk)
    • reminder letters will be sent to you before your routine screening is due in the future
    • service providers may provide better care to you by having access to your previous test results
  4. Please note that you have to arrange for cervical screening or related tests yourself with your service providers after registering with the Cervical Screening Programme.
  5. If Hong Kong address is not provided, we will not be able to send letters to you by post (including Account Opening Letter, Reminder Letter, Password Retrieval Letter, etc.). We may call you to arrange collection of Account Opening Letter or Password Retrieval Letter at the office of Cervical Screening Programme by yourself. However, if you cannot provide a Hong Kong contact telephone number, we will not be able to call you.

Terms and Conditions

  1. You should inform us of any change of personal information using the Information Update Form.
  2. You should bring along your Authorization Code (which will be sent to you later) when you visit your service provider for cervical screening or related tests. This may facilitate your service provider to view your past test results.
  3. The Cervical Screening Information System is not meant to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice or to replace any relationship with your doctor. For any medical concerns, including follow-up and treatment plans, you should always consult your health service providers. The Department of Health is not liable for any damages or harms as a consequence of any misuse of the Cervical Screening Information System, or any errors or omissions in your records.

Personal Information Collection

We shall keep your personal data confidential at all times. Our policies and practices with respect to the collection, use, retention, disclosure, transfer, security and access of personal data will be in accordance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486) and are as set out in this Statement.

By signing your agreement to this Statement in the Registration Form, you have authorized any Services within the Department of Health, the Hospital Authority and the public hospitals under its management, any entities (including subsidiaries) owned/controlled by the Hospital Authority, private hospitals and clinics, and any third parties as appropriate to provide your personal data (including health information) to the Cervical Screening Programme of the Department of Health. Such personal data will be used for the purposes stated below.

Purpose of Collection

Your personal data and health information provided to the Cervical Screening Information System, which is maintained by the Department of Health, will be used for the following purposes:

  1. Recording and transferring of your personal data and health information (collected at anytime from your registration with this Programme until your withdrawal) for continuity of care or reference by other medical professionals who provide care to you (if you withdraw from this Programme, your record will be retained but only for internal use and access by the Department of Health);
  2. Sending reminder letters to you;
  3. Tracing defaulter for follow-up and treatment;
  4. Preparing statistics for research or teaching purposes;
  5. For quality assurance of the Programme; and
  6. Investigating and following up matters related to the Programme;

The provision of personal data is voluntary. If you do not provide sufficient information, we may not be able to prove that you have enrolled in the programme and cannot provide / coordinate services for you.

Classes of Transferees of Personal Data

Besides internal use within DH, your personal data and health information may also be accessed by, disclosed and transferred to other health care providers, including doctors and pathology laboratories, Government bureaux/departments, the Hospital Authority, and any relevant third parties for the purposes mentioned above, if required. Apart from this, the data may only be disclosed to parties where you have given consent to such disclosure or where such disclosure is allowed under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

Access to Personal Data

You have a right of access and correction with respect to personal data as provided for in sections 18 and 22 and Principle 6 of Schedule 1 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. Your right of access includes the right to obtain a copy of your personal data. A fee may be imposed for complying with a data access request.

Enquiries

Enquiries concerning the personal data provided, including the making of access and corrections, should be addressed to Cervical Screening Programme, Department of Health, 18/F Wu Chung House, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong.

(Content revised 12/2015)