Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis

Cervical dysplasia means that the cervical tissue is growing abnormally. This condition is sometimes called “precancerous changes.” The degree of abnormal tissue growth can be “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” If severe dysplasia is not treated, it can progress to cancer of the cervix. The Pap smear is a screening test for cervical dysplasia. This means that when a Pap smear is abnormal, actual abnormal tissue may or may not be actually present. To diagnose abnormally growing tissue, an office procedure called “colposcopy” has to be performed, in which the cervix is examined very closely using a colposcope. The colposcope is a very large microscope that magnifies the view of the cervix. The physician looks for abnormal tissue growth patterns. If an area looks abnormal by colposcopy, a biopsy of the cervix is performed by pinching off a small piece of the cervix. Local anesthesia is not required. The biopsy will feel like a sharp pinch or cramp, but it only lasts for a moment. The biopsy specimen of the cervix is sent to the pathology laboratory where it will be examined very carefully. The laboratory will determine whether “dysplasia” (abnormally growing tissue) is present. The report will also state whether the dysplasia is mild, moderate, or severe. Cervical dysplasia cannot be transmitted sexually or in any other manner. However, the human papillomavirus, which is sexually transmitted, can increase the risk of developing dysplasia and cervical cancer. Cigarette smoking may increase the risk of developing cervical dysplasia. Other risk factors include sexual activity (intercourse) at an early age and multiple sexual partners.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Cervical dysplasia does not cause any symptoms. It is usually discovered by a Pap smear. Very rarely, if the dysplasia is very advanced, abnormal bleeding will occur. If you have been diagnosed with dysplasia, it is important that you keep your follow-up appointments so that the dysplasia can be followed carefully. If you smoke cigarettes, you should try to quit.

Cervical dysplasia can be treated by several methods. The most commonly used method is the loop cone biopsy (this procedure goes by many different names). This procedure is performed in the office under local anesthesia. There is minimal discomfort from the procedure. Some patients may experience mild cramping after the procedure for 1–2 days. Vaginal discharge is increased for 1–2 weeks after the loop cone biopsy. The success rate is 85% to 90%, which means that the cervical dysplasia only recurs in 10% to 15% of patients. Cervical dysplasia can also be treated by “cryosurgery,” which is simply freezing the cervix. When the cervix is frozen, the abnormal tissue dies and falls off. This is an office procedure as well. Patients usually experience mild-to-moderate cramping with this procedure. Vaginal discharge is usually increased for 2–4 weeks after the procedure. Occasionally, your gynecologist will recommend that the cone biopsy be performed in the operating room as an outpatient procedure. This means that you come in on the day of your procedure and go home on the same day.
The DOs
• Keep your follow-up appointments as scheduled. It is better to treat cervical dysplasia in the early stages.
• Practice “safe sex.” Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases, especially the human papillomavirus, can decrease your risk of developing cervical dysplasia.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t miss your follow-up appointments if you have been told you have dysplasia.
• Don’t miss your follow-up appointments if you have a cone biopsy. Cervical dysplasia can recur, so it is very important that you have follow-up Pap smears and colposcopy after the cone biopsy.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If you experience persistent bleeding, longer than a week, after a cervical biopsy.
• If you experience more bleeding or vaginal discharge than expected after the loop cone biopsy.
• If you have fever after the loop cone biopsy.