Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance (ASCUS)

When the cervical screening test shows the presence of ASCUS, it means that the cells are somewhat different from normal cells under microscope but their degree of deterioration is not severe enough for them to be called pre-cancerous cells. Out of every 100 women taking the screening test, about 3 to 5 will have the above manifestation and 50% of whom will have their cells regressed to normal after 4 to 6 months.

The screening test cannot fully reflect the degree of deterioration of the cervical tissues. In fact, among 100 women with abnormal cervical cells, about 5 have severely deteriorated cervical tissue. Therefore, women should have repeat tests every 6 months until two consecutive normal results are achieved. If abnormal cells persist or the condition worsens, referral to specialist clinic for colposcopy will be required. Since the progression from severe deterioration of cervical cells to cancer generally takes about 5 to 10 years, the condition does not pose any immediate threat, please do not worry excessively.

The development of cervical cancer is a long process. The cells of the cervix gradually undergo a series of changes from normal cells to abnormal cells, to mild, moderate, then severe deterioration, and finally to cervical cancer. Apart from continual worsening of cell changes, at any time, the cell changes can also spontaneously regress to normal. However. Even if the cell changes already show severe deterioration, it can still take up to 5 to 10 years before cancer finally appears.

We understand that woman may wish to have a repeat test as soon as possible. As the external layer of cervical cells has been scraped off during the previous smear and the cells take time to grow again (at least 4 to 6 weeks), early re-examination cannot reflect the condition of the cervical cells accurately. Please attend for a repeat test at the scheduled time.

What is colposcopy?

Colposcopy refers to the examination of the vagina using a magnifying glass. The examination procedures can be performed at clinics without anaesthesia and will take about 10 minutes.

Procedures

The doctor will insert the colposcope, stain the vagina and cervix with special medicinal solution and then use the magnifying glass to identify any abnormal lesion. If abnormal lesion is found, the doctor will use an equipment to extract a small piece of the tissue and send it to the laboratory for further analysis. The whole process is painless and therefore there is no need to worry about the procedure.

(Content revised 11/2011)