Cervical dysplasia is the abnormal appearance of cells on the surface of the cervix when they are looked at underneath a microscope. Although this is not cancer, it is considered a precancerous condition.
Dysplasia that is seen on a Pap smear is described using the term squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL). These changes may be graded as:
Dysplasia that is seen on a biopsy of the cervix uses the term cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), and is grouped into three categories:
Most cases of cervical dysplasia occur in women ages 25 - 35, although it can develop at any age.
Almost all cases of cervical dysplasia or cervical caner are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. There are many different types of HPV. Some types lead to cervical dysplasia or cancer.
The following may increase your risk of cervical dysplasia:
There are usually no symptoms.
A pelvic examination is usually normal.
A Pap smear that shows abnormal cells or cervical dysplasia needs further testing.
An HPV DNA test can identify the high-risk types of HPV that are known to cause cervical cancer. This may be done:
It can take 10 years or longer for cervical dysplasia to develop into cancer.
Treatment depends on the degree of dysplasia.
Treatment for moderate to severe dysplasia or mild dysplasia that does not go away may include:
Rarely, a hysterectomy may be recommended. Women with dysplasia need consistent follow-up, usually every 3 to 6 months or as recommended by their provider.
Early diagnosis and prompt treatment cure nearly all cases of cervical dysplasia.
Without treatment, 30 - 50% of cases of severe cervical dysplasia may lead to invasive cancer. The risk of cancer is lower for mild dysplasia.
The condition may return.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are age 21 or older and have never had a pelvic examination and Pap smear.
See: Physical exam frequency
Ask your health care provider about the HPV vaccine. Girls who receive this vaccine before they become sexually active reduce their chance of getting cervical cancer by 70%.
To reduce the chance of developing cervical dysplasia:
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN); Precancerous changes of the cervix