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.
HOW IS DYSPLASIA DETECTED?
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.
HOW IS CERVICAL DYSPLASIA TREATED?
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: