Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN

Laser treatment

Laser treatment (sometimes called laser ablation) is used to destroy abnormal cervical cells to allow normal cells to grow back in their place. It is performed in a hospital outpatient clinic, usually in one session, using a local anaesthetic. A biopsy (sample) is needed before laser treatment is used. Under local anaesthetic, a laser beam is pointed onto the abnormal areas of the cervix and the cells are destroyed. During the treatment there may be a slight burning smell from the laser.
Before the introduction of the LLETZ treatment in the early 1990s, laser treatment was the preferred method to remove abnormal cells from the cervix. After confirming the presence of CIN with a small punch biopsy, a laser beam (high-energy light) was used to vaporise the abnormal area, or the laser beam was used to cut a cone of tissue out similar to the LLETZ procedure. Tissue healing after laser treatment was very good. However, laser treatment has largely been replaced by LLETZ. Gynaecologists favour LLETZ over small laser treatment because it is safer to send a big sample for pathological analysis after a LLETZ procedure to ensure that a small, invasive cancer has not been missed. The equipment for LLETZ is also much cheaper to buy, use and easier to maintain than laser generators. One woman we spoke with had laser treatment in the past.

Jane had laser treatment in 1983 and couldn’t remember much about the procedure. She bled heavily...

Jane had laser treatment in 1983 and couldn’t remember much about the procedure. She bled heavily...

Age at interview: 50
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 30

It [laser treatment] took much longer than I’d been expecting. It seemed like an hour but it probably wasn’t an hour. I can’t remember to be honest; this was 1983, a long time ago.

They said it would be like a heavy period. And, you know, normally my periods were five days and they were quite heavy anyway.

So I thought well not much to worry about there.


It was completely different.

This was much heavier?

It was much heavier yeah. And they must’ve known because they have special sanitary towels that are only used for this thing. And they’re just enormous, you know, really huge and thick. And they gave me just a small packet of them to go home with so I thought, I was relieved it was a small packet. I thought that meant the bleeding would calm down and I could go onto normal sanitary towels. They told me I wouldn’t be able to use tampons. So fair enough.

But it was so bad that I was, I got to know the woman in my local pharmacy just around the corner from where I lived because I’d go in every day and get a new packet. I’d get lucozade because that was, you know, it’s meant to be an energy drink. It did
help me to kind of perk up a bit, better than coffee and stuff.

And you were off work for two weeks hoping to just recover a bit?


But the bleeding continued for another four weeks after that?

Yes. It wasn’t as bad, I was able to go back to work.

And you were able to work or you just felt shattered at the end of the day?

Yeah. I could do my job but I couldn’t really do much else. Yeah, mainly on a weekend.

Then eventually did it taper off?

Yes, it got better, yeah.

More experiences of laser treatment can be found on our - Cervical Screening site.

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Last reviewed July 2017.

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