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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Cervical Dysplasia
      Category : Health Centers > Cancers and Tumors

Cervical Dysplasia

Alternate Names : Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN), Precancerous Changes of the Cervix

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Cervical dysplasia is a condition in which a woman has abnormal changes in the top layer of cells of her cervix. The cervix is the opening between the vagina and the uterus. The changes are local and have not spread more deeply into the cervix or to other sites in the body.

What is going on in the body?

The cells of the cervix take months or even years to go through precancerous stages before full-blown cancer occurs. These changes are called cervical dysplasia. Catching and treating the changes early can prevent cancer of the cervix.

The cervix is the opening to the uterus. While it is located within a woman's vagina, its cells act very much like skin cells. The cells are exposed to toxins, viruses, and bacteria that may cause abnormal changes.

Each stage of dysplasia, or abnormal changes in the cells, is judged by the thickness of the cells that are abnormal. The earliest microscopic change is mild dysplasia or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, also referred to as CIN 1. If not treated, the precancerous changes may become moderate (CIN 2) and then severe (CIN 3). The fourth and most severe stage of dysplasia is called carcinoma in situ, or CIS. After that, cancer cells may invade deeper layers of the cervix or spread to nearby sites. At that point it is called invasive cancer of the cervix.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Cervical dysplasia is a precursor to cancer of the cervix, which is the second most common cancer of the female reproductive system. It occurs most often among women aged 40 to 55.

No one knows exactly what causes the abnormal changes that we call cervical dysplasia. Certain health problems, lifestyle choices, and other factors may raise a woman's risk for this. These include the following:

  • having had a sexually transmitted disease. Both chlamydia and human papilloma virus infections are strongly associated with cervical dysplasia and cancer of the cervix.
  • having had an abnormal Pap smear. A Pap smear is an examination, under a microscope, of cells scraped from the cervix.
  • becoming sexually active before age 18
  • having had more than 3 sexual partners
  • not using condoms with new sexual partners
  • having had cancer of the vagina or vulva
  • having a sexual partner whose previous partner had cancer of the cervix or cervical dysplasia, a condition of abnormal cells that precedes cancer
  • having a sexual partner who has or has had cancer of the penis
  • smoking
  • having a weakened immune system, for example, as a result of HIV or another immunodeficiency disorder
  • being the daughter of a woman who took DES, or diethylstilbestrol, during pregnancy
  • a history of cancer of the cervix in a woman's sister or mother


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    Cervical Dysplasia: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/13/01

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