Cervical Dysplasia


The term "plasia" means growth. dysplasia means disordered growth - of the cervix. It is easier to understand cervical dysplasia if we first look at the normal cervix. When we look at the lining of the normal cervix under a microscope we see layers of cells. The normal distribution is that the bottom layer is made of round young cells. As the cells mature they rise to the surface and flatten out, so that on the surface the cells are flat.

In cervical dysplasia there is a lack of this organized growth process. In mild dysplasia only a few cells are abnormal, while in moderate dysplasia the abnormal cells involve about one-half of the thickness of the surface lining of the cervix.

In severe dysplasia also known as carcinoma-in-situ the entire thickness of cells is disordered, but the abnormal cells have not yet spread below the surface. If this condition is not treated, it often will grow into an invasive cervical cancer.

In dysplasia and carcinoma-in-situ all of the abnormalities are confined to the surface lining of the cervix. In invasive cancer the cells are not only disordered throughout the entire thickness of the lining, but they invade the tissue underlying the surface. Invasive cancer is treated entirely differently than dysplasia.


Usually the abnormal cells are first discovered on a routine Pap smear, which is a screening test that examines cells, scraped off the surface of the cervix. When abnormal cells are seen on a Pap Test, it is a must to look at the cervix more closely to determine the exact nature of the abnormality. To do this we examine the cervix with a special microscope called a colposcope. This examination is called colposcopy.


There are many ways to treat cervical dysplasia, depending upon the extent and severity of the dysplasia, the age of the woman and whether or not she has any other gynec problems. Often the experience of the treating physician and the availability of equipment also influence the decision. The following are the most common methods of treating cervical dysplasia: