Cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition caused by the human papilloma virus(HPV). The condition is also referred to as squamous intra-epithelial lesion which gradually progresses to cervical cancer.
This condition is characterized by the appearance of abnormal cells (dysplasia) on the surface of the cervix. The condition does not always necessarily progress to cancer. Some smaller lesions regress on their own, while other lesions progress to cervical dysplasia. It is generally asymptomatic and can be detected with the help of pap-smear by analyzing the exfoliated cervicovaginal cells. It is generally seen in women of age group of 25 to 35 years of age. HPV virus generally spreads through sexual contact.
The changes are generally seen on the pap smear. Depending on the severity of the condition it may be graded into three categories:
-Possibly cancerous (malignant)
WHO estimates that 74,000 Indian women lose their lives every year due to cervical cancer.
More than 95% of prolonged HPV infections turn cancerous over 15 to 20 yrs.
According to the studies carried out by WHO, the number of deaths can be reduced to almost half by getting themselves tested by a single screening test.
Symptoms: The condition is generally asymptomatic or usually presents with no symptoms.
Certain individuals are more prone to develop cervical dysplasia:
- Women who have suppressed immune system.
- Foul odor, heavy vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain and pain during urination.
- Routine pelvic examination is done, particularly for women over 30 years.
- Further testing should be carried out in individuals with abnormalities detected in the pap-smear.
- Colonoscopy directed biopsy should be done to confirm the condition and its severity.
- Regular pap-smear examination should be carried out at regular intervals for individuals with mild abnormalities.
Factors that may increase the changes for the condition turning cancerous:
- i. Lack of personal hygiene
- ii. Multiple pregnancies
- iii. Imbalanced nutrition
- iv. Multiple sexual partners
- v. Smoking
- vi. Use of oral contraceptive pills
- vii. Early marriage or early onset of sexual activity.
In most cases of cervical dysplasia, the treatment depends on the degree of severity.
Mild dysplasia cases might regress on their own.
Regular visits to the doctor for a thorough medical check-up is a must in every 3-6 months (pap smear examination).
If the symptoms are persistent for 2 years or more, then treatment is generally recommended.
In moderate to severe cases of cervical dysplasia following is the recommended treatment:
-Cone biopsy (procedure in which the abnormal tissue is removed)
-Lasers to destroy abnormal tissues
–Prognosis is generally good in mild cervical dysplasia cases
-When the condition is not treated, it may turn cancerous.
–Since cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition it may take time to progress into a malignancy or a cancerous condition.
-Regular medical check-ups and pelvic examination should be carried out in women above 21 years of age.
-Vaccinations for HPV should be taken between 10 to 25 years of age.
-Safe sex methods should be encouraged.
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