There are four possible results from the cervical screening process, all of which require different action to be taken. These are:

  • Low risk (HPV not detected): This means that no high-risk (cancer causing) HPV was found on your cervix. The chance of developing cervical cell changes that would need treatment in the next five years are very low. For that reason, you should wait for five years before having another cervical screening test.
  • Intermediate risk: Your results show that you do NOT have HPV types 16 or 18 (the highest risk types), but that you have one of the other high-risk HPV types. Your sample will already have been examined in the laboratory to look for abnormal cell changes, and you have either no cell changes or only minor (low-grade) cell changes on your cervix. You will be asked to return in 12 months for a follow-up HPV test, as the infection (and any cell changes) will usually be cleared by your body in this time.
  • Higher risk: Your test results show either HPV infection with types 16 and/or 18, high grade cell changes on your cervix, or persistent infection with one of the other high-risk HPV types (not 16/18). It is important that you have a further follow-up because you may be at a high risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Unsatisfactory: An unsatisfactory test result occurs when the sample cannot be properly examined. There are a number of reasons why this may happen, including the number of cells may be too small, or there may not be enough liquid to perform all the tests needed. An unsatisfactory result does not mean there is an abnormality or a positive test, but it is important to repeat a test at the recommended time.

Your doctor or health professional will discuss your results with you.