What does a high-grade change mean on my Pap test result?

If your Pap test results indicate that there are ‘high-grade changes’ to the cells of your cervix, it’s most likely that you have an HPV infection that has persisted.

It doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer. But if you don’t have further tests, and receive any recommended treatment, there is a possibility that the infection may cause cervical cancer.

If your test shows high-grade cell changes, or 'high-grade abnormalities’, you will be referred for a colposcopy, which is an examination similar to a Pap test but performed by a specialist.

Next steps

If the colposcopy confirms that you have a high-grade abnormality, you’ll need a biopsy of the cervix, which will be done during the colposcopy.

Your doctor will explain the treatment you need, depending on the results.

If the colposcopy shows a low-grade abnormality, you probably won’t need a biopsy. There are various treatment options if your Pap test reveals a high grade change. 

Less than 1.7% of women in NSW whose Pap tests show possible high-grade abnormalities are subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer.[1]

A Pap test every 2 years will ensure that, if you do have a high-grade abnormality, you receive the best treatment to prevent cervical cancer.
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