Cervical dysplasia refers is abnormal changes in the cells on the surface of the cervix that are seen underneath a microscope. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens at the top of the vagina.
The changes are not cancer. However, they can lead to cancer of the cervix if not treated.
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN); Precancerous changes of the cervix
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Cervical dysplasia is most often seen in women ages 25 - 35, but can develop at any age.
Most often, cervical dysplasia is caused by the 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:
Having sex before age 18
Having a baby before age 16
Having multiple sexual partners
Having other illnesses or using medications that suppress your immune system
There are usually no symptoms.
Signs and tests
A pelvic examination is usually normal.
Cervical dysplasia that is seen on a Pap smear is called squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL). These changes may be:
Possibly cancerous (malignant)
Atypical glandular cells (AGUS)
If a Pap smear shows abnormal cells or cervical dysplasia, you will need further testing:
Follow-up Pap smears may be recommended if the condition is mild
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%.
You can reduce your risk of developing cervical dysplasia by taking the following steps:
Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk of developing more severe dysplasia and cancer
Get vaccinated for HPV between ages 9 and 26
Do not have sex until you are 18 or older
Practice safe sex, and use a condom
Practice monogamy, which means you only have one sexual partner at a time
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Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington;Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.