Cervical Dysplasia – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
- Cervix is a connecting region between the vagina and the uterus.
- Development of pre-cancerous cells in the cervix region is called as Cervical Dysplasia.
- Human Papilloma Virus is one of the main causes of Cervical Dysplasia
- Typically no symptoms show up for Cervical Dysplasia.
- A pap test is done to determine the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix region.
- Cryosurgery, LEEP, Laser Therapy, Cone Biopsy are some of the treatment options for Cervical Dysplasia.
Cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. The cervix becomes larger during vaginal child birth. Presence of abnormal cells in the cervix region (lining of the cervix) is called Cervical Dysplasia.
Causes of Cervical Dysplasia
HPV – Human Papilloma Virus is found to be the major cause of Cervical Dysplasia. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can even spread with normal vaginal or anal penetrative sex, oral sex or even with skin to skin contact with an infected person. Women who are sexually active at a younger age or involve in sexual relationship with a person who has sexual relationships with multiple people are at higher risk of getting infected with HPV.
Human Papilloma Virus, like many viruses has over 100 different types of strains. HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the variants that are strongly linked to the cause of Cervical Dysplasia.
Symptoms of Cervical Dysplasia
Typically, women with cervical dysplasia don’t see any symptoms. In rare cases, some people may experience heavy bleeding during their periods.
Risk factors of Cervical Dysplasia
- Women who are sexually active and who started having sex before the age 20 are at higher risk of contracting HPV that can lead to Cervical Dysplasia.
- Smoking is another important risk factor as it suppressed the immune system and reduces it’s ability to fight infection.
- Other immune suppressing diseases like AIDS can also help in development of cervical dysplasia after getting infected with HPV.
- Some medicines that are administered after an organ transplant can also suppress the immune system.
- Having sex with an uncircumcised man also increases the odds of getting infected with HPV. (Not getting circumcised actually increases the odds of a man getting infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections compared to those who are circumcised.)
Diagnosing Cervical Dysplasia
As there are mostly no symptoms that show up, cervical dysplasia is detected during a regular pelvis check up or if your doctor is diagnosing you for any other type of medical problem. A pap test is done to look for the presence of precancerous cells in the lining of cervix. Pap test results shows any damage done to the cellular tissue, this is called ‘Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (SIL)’. Once the presence of precancerous cells is detected, the stage is determined. Different stages of cervical dysplasia include:
- Low Grade SIL – LSIL
- High Grade SIL – HSIL
- Possibility of Cancer
- Atypical Glandular Cells (AGUS)
People who are in LSIL stage don’t really require any treatment. For those with other stages of dysplasia, colonoscopy may be done the doctor. A colonoscope is a small tube with a light and camera at the end which is inserted into the cervix through the vagina. This allows the doctor to see the affected areas.
The doctor then takes out a small tissue from the walls of the cervix and sends it for a biopsy to check for the presence of cancer cells. If the biopsy results show the presence of cancer cells, it is classified as ‘Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN)’.
Treatment for Cervical Dysplasia
Treatment options for cervical dysplasia depend on the severity of the condition. Low grade condition doesn’t require treatment. However, regular pap test will be recommended to keep a tab on the progress of the disease.
Some treatment options for cervical dysplasia include:
- Cryosurgery – Freezing the bad cells.
- Laser therapy – eliminating the bad cells with laser energy beam.
- LEEP – Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure – uses electricity to remove the affected tissue.
- Cone biopsy – a procedure in which a cone shaped piece of the cervix is removed.
Being sexually active may not be wrong but not following safe sex practices can lead not just to the transmission of sexually transmitted infections but also several other medical complications. Vaccines for certain types of HPV are available and can be administered at certain ages, please check with our gynecologists if you think of getting one.