A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Cervical dysplasia: Is it cancer?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cervical-dysplasia/AN01657
- With Mayo Clinic gynecologist and obstetrician
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
Dr. Mary Gallenberg is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine and medical oncology.
An Antigo, Wis., native, Dr. Gallenberg is a consultant in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and an assistant professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Gallenberg has been with Mayo Clinic since 1990. She was on the Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource editorial board and has been honored for excellence in teaching. She also won a Mayo Clinic Excellence Through Teamwork award.
Tests and diagnosis (3)
- Pap smear: Still needed after hysterectomy?
- Pap smear: Do I need one if I'm a virgin?
- Cervical dysplasia: Is it cancer?
Cervical dysplasia: Is it cancer?
I had a Pap smear recently, and my doctor said the results showed cervical dysplasia. What does that mean? Is it cancer?
from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
No. Cervical dysplasia isn't cancer. The term indicates that abnormal cells were found on the surface of the cervix.
Cervical dysplasia can range from mild to severe, depending on the appearance of the abnormal cells. Dysplasia could go away on its own or, rarely, it could develop into cancer. Another term for cervical dysplasia is cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.
Tests to determine the severity of cervical dysplasia
After an abnormality is detected on a Pap smear, your doctor may recommend more tests, including a human papillomavirus (HPV) test and colposcopy. Colposcopy is an examination of your cervix, vagina and vulva using a magnifying instrument. During a colposcopic examination, your doctor may determine where the abnormal cells are growing and the degree of abnormality. A sample of cells (biopsy) may be taken for testing.
Treatment and follow-up for cervical dysplasia
Often, with mild dysplasia, no treatment is needed. In most cases, mild dysplasia resolves on its own and doesn't become cancerous. Your doctor may recommend follow-up in six to 12 months to check for additional changes. If you have severe dysplasia, your doctor may recommend treatment such as surgery or other procedures to remove the abnormal cells.
Whether you have mild or severe dysplasia, it's likely your doctor will recommend Pap testing every six months or, with mild dysplasia, HPV testing yearly to monitor your condition and check for recurrences of dysplasia. After two consecutive normal Pap smears, your doctor will likely recommend resuming annual Pap smears if you've had severe dysplasia, and Pap smears every one to three years if you've had mild dysplasia.Next question
HPV infection: How does it cause cervical cancer?
- Holschneider CH. Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: Definition, incidence, and pathogenesis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 27, 2011.
- Boardman LA, et al. Management of atypical squamous cells, low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 1. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics. 2008;35:599.
- Understanding abnormal Pap test results. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp161.cfm. Accessed June 29, 2011.
- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 28, 2011.