Please help.

I had a smear in January which showed mild dyskarysois. I have had a repeat a week ago which shows borderline changes. I am going for a colcoscopy. I suffer from extreme anxiety and am so worried that I have cervical cancer. 

Hi,

I completely understand your anxiety. I could tell you not to worry, but I know how hard it is not to! However, I do want to reassure you. What that 'borderline changes' result shows is that the mild change that was identified in January ('dyskaryosis' just means 'change') has not cleared up on its own, so they want to have a closer look at it, which is what a colposcopy can do. I can't emphasize enough how unlikely it is that a mild or borderline result is likely to be cancer - it's very unlikely - if you had cancer, it is much more likely that your smear would have come back as 'severe dyskaryosis' and even then, the vast majority of 'severe dyskaryosis' results don't turn out to be cancer. 

As far as the colposcopy is concerned, I understand you being anxious about it, I was very anxious about mine, but it's also something that is very do-able. Is there a partner or a close friend that you can take with you to hold your hand? I took my husband with me and it made it a lot better than it would have been if I was on my own, although it still would have been completely do-able by myself - it's just easier if you have a familiar face with you. If I hadn't taken my husband, I would have taken a friend with me.

I would also suggest that when you're having the little chat that you have with the consultant before he/she does the colposcopy, you tell them that you're anxious. I did that and it really helped because my consultant helped me by explaining exactly what he was going to do and telling me that I was the boss! He clearly said that if I needed him to stop at any point, all I had to do was say so. All of the nurses were really kind and understanding as well and this really helped. You are having something very intimate happen to your body so it's important that you feel you're the one in control. I was having a lletz at the same time, but if you're just having a colposcopy for them to have a closer look, rather than treat you, then there's no pain or anything like that - it's just not the most dignified thing in the world, but that's all! The gynaecologist basically looks at your vagina through magnifying glasses (these don't go inside you - don't worry!) to get a really close look at the area affected by abnormality. In your case, the area is likely to be tiny because the changes identified by your smear are 'borderline'. It just gives them a clearer picture of what's gone on and helps them to keep an eye on you, to prevent these tiny changes getting any worse, so actually, the colposcopy could end up being very reassuring, because you'll know you're being closely monitored and looked after, to avoid you ending up with a worse result years down the line. 

So, I know I said I wouldn't say this, but.....try not to worry! This really does sound like you've got tiny changes that could even resolve on their own in another six months.

Take care, and let us know how you get on. 

Annabel. x

Sorry - meant to type that the gynaecologist has a closer look at your vagina AND CERVIX, rather than just vagina!!

Hi Annabel,

Thank you so much for your reply. I am so scared and I can't stop crying and thinking of dying. I smoke too. Is that really bad? I am so confused. I can take my boyfriend with me. I am sure he will come. 

Hi, 

It's ok, I completely understand your fears and anxieties. It's great that you can take your boyfriend with you - it's absolutely fine to take him into the colposcopy room with you and to actually have him by your side holding your hand while the gynaecologist is doing the colposcopy, so if you think it would help your anxiety to have him there, make sure you do that - like I said, it helps to have that familiar face there with you. 

Take a deep breathe, focus, and say to yourself that these are mild abnormalities and the reason you are going for a colposcopy is because they want to look after you and protect you, NOT because they think you've got cancer. You have done exactly what you should have done - you have gone and had your smear test and that's a great way to help look after yourself, and what's happened is the smear test has done its job by flagging up any abnormality that's there - that's really good because that means it can be sorted out because you are not allowing it the opportunity to get worse. Well done you, that's what I say! 

As for smoking, I'm not going to judge you for being a human being. We all do things sometimes that aren't necessarily in our best interests - that's just part of being a person. You already know that smoking is not a healthy thing to do - you don't need me to tell you that. Rather than thinking to yourself that you've done something 'bad', try to think of this information about your body as an opportunity to make a positive change in your life. You already know the specific cancers that smoking is related to, such as mouth cancer, lung cancer etc (I watched my father die of lung cancer and trust me, you do NOT want to go that way), but the trouble with smoking and other kinds of cancer (such as cervical cancer) is that smoking is a friend to abnormal cells. We already know, because of your dyskaryosis result, that you have abnormal cells. The early stages of abnormal cells in the cervix is still a long way from cancer and generally it takes many years to get from one to the other, but what smoking can do is encourage that abnormality, so actually, it's brilliant that you have this information about your body before it's become really serious, because it gives you the opportunity to try and eliminate something that you know could have a big hand in harming you. I'm not saying any of that to frighten you or judge you in any way - I'm saying that because I'm sure you're lovely and you don't deserve to be harmed - you deserve a sunny, healthy, long life. 

Are you able to tell me what it is that you feel confused about? It's horrible feeling confused when you're scared of something, so if I can help you feel less confused about anything, or if there's anything you're not sure about that I can help explain to you, then I will. 

Annabel. x

 

Hi Annabel,

Thank you so much for your reply. I went to the doctor today and he also reassured me that it is probably nothing to worry about and I just have to wait fro the colposcopy. I think I had HPV when I was younger because I got some of the only symptoms you get with it - but that was 15 years ago. I don't know if they tested my samples for HPV because there is no mention of it. 

I am going to stop smoking. I think either way, it will give my body a chance to recover. My cervical cancer fear is second to a real fear of lung cancer and I have been for so many tests because I cough a lot and have a lot of sputum. That sounds gross sorry. I have a CT scan next week but all other tests have come out clear so far. I was so hoping for the smear test to come out clear and I completely freaked out when I got the results. I felt so disappointed because I was hoping and praying for it to go away. I think you are right about my body telling me something and I hope that I have the will and the strength to do something about it. I have smoked for 17 years and am now 33. It's about time I stopped. 

It's been a very confusing time all in all because for the last five months I have had severe anxiety attacks and had to go back on to an anti-depressent which I stopped. So that makes it almost 11 years all in all that I have had to be on this anti-depressent and I am so angry about that! Angry is the wrong word - sad I guess is better. 

Besides that I am terrified of the colposcopy (not the procedure) but in case they find cancer. I have a real phobia and I feel so afraid a lot of the time. 

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. I am very grateful. 

Thanks,

Lindsay

Hi Lindsay, 

You poor thing, this is obviously very hard for you, which is completely understandable. Anxiety attacks are horrible and exhausting, so this kind of thing going on as well is probably the last thing you need! Again though, I can't emphasize enough how unlikely this is to be cancer. 

It's great that you've decided to give up smoking - brilliant! :-) Try not to beat yourself up about being on anti-depressants - I understand your anger, but try and give yourself a break - you need to be kind to yourself. If you need to be on them at the moment, then that's what you need - we'd never say that someone with asthma shouldn't need their inhalers in order to be able to breathe properly, so if anti-depressants help to stop your depression getting worse and reduce the number of anxiety attacks you have, then being on them is probably the best thing at the moment. Have you considered counselling or therapy of some kind? If you went for psychodynamic counselling or psychotherapy it could help you get to the route of your depression and anxiety and in time you could start to overcome it and could get to a place where you wouldn't need the medication that you don't like taking. This is a very personal thing, and everybody's situation is different, so I am by no means saying this is what you 'should' do - I'm just putting it out there as an option. 

Have you had your CT scan yet? 

Hope you're doing ok. 

Love, Annabel. x