What is Mild Dysplasia?

Lindsay Kahl
Lindsay Kahl
Certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cervical dysplasia, a possible precursor to cervical cancer.
Certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cervical dysplasia, a possible precursor to cervical cancer.

The term “dysplasia” refers to abnormal cell changes of the cervix. Mild dysplasia is the least severe stage and means that a woman’s cervical cells are slightly abnormal. Other terms for mild dysplasia include low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, Grade 1. If left untreated, mild dysplasia can progress to more severe stages and even to cervical cancer during the course of 10 years or more.

A woman can reduce her risk of developing mild dysplasia by practicing monogamy.
A woman can reduce her risk of developing mild dysplasia by practicing monogamy.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) almost always is the cause of cervical dysplasia. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that usually is passed through vaginal or anal sex. Some types of HPV can cause genital warts, and other types can lead to cervical dysplasia.

A woman does not experience any symptoms with mild dysplasia. Symptoms typically do not develop until dysplasia has progressed and become cancerous, which is why it is crucial for women to have regular Papanicolau tests. Pap tests, as they commonly are called, can detect cervical dysplasia and allow for early intervention when necessary.

Women who have had multiple sex partners have a greater risk of developing cervical dysplasia.
Women who have had multiple sex partners have a greater risk of developing cervical dysplasia.

In the majority of cases, mild dysplasia goes away on its own, and a woman might not need any treatment. After it is detected, a doctor can determine severity and decide if treatment is necessary. Often, a doctor will schedule a woman for more frequent Pap tests to watch for additional cell changes. Some women with mild dysplasia undergo a colposcopy, which is a medical procedure that allows the doctor to examine cervical cells more closely. A doctor might take a tissue sample for biopsy during this procedure.

Condom use can help prevent cervical dysplasia, which can cause the human papilloma virus.
Condom use can help prevent cervical dysplasia, which can cause the human papilloma virus.

If dysplasia progresses, there are several treatment options. A doctor might use a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove abnormal tissue. With cryosurgery or cryocauterization, the doctor uses a cryoprobe to freeze and kill abnormal cells. Another option is laser ablation, which is when a doctor uses a laser to kill the abnormal cervical cells.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is usually passed through vaginal or anal sex.
HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is usually passed through vaginal or anal sex.

Women who were sexually active before the age of 18, have had multiple sexual partners or gave birth before the age of 16 have a greater risk of developing cervical dysplasia. Women with suppressed immune systems and those who smoke also are more likely to have it. A woman can reduce her risk by practicing monogamy and using condoms during sexual intercourse, which will help lower the risk of contracting HPV. Women between the ages of 9 and 26 also can get vaccinated against some types of HPV.

Dysplasia refers to abnormal cell changes of the cervix.
Dysplasia refers to abnormal cell changes of the cervix.

The prognosis for women with mild dysplasia is excellent. Many cases resolve on their own, and the cases that persist can be treated early before they progress to cervical cancer. Women should have routine Pap tests for successful detection and prevention.

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    • Certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cervical dysplasia, a possible precursor to cervical cancer.
      Certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cervical dysplasia, a possible precursor to cervical cancer.
    • A woman can reduce her risk of developing mild dysplasia by practicing monogamy.
      A woman can reduce her risk of developing mild dysplasia by practicing monogamy.
    • Women who have had multiple sex partners have a greater risk of developing cervical dysplasia.
      Women who have had multiple sex partners have a greater risk of developing cervical dysplasia.
    • Condom use can help prevent cervical dysplasia, which can cause the human papilloma virus.
      Condom use can help prevent cervical dysplasia, which can cause the human papilloma virus.
    • HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is usually passed through vaginal or anal sex.
      HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is usually passed through vaginal or anal sex.
    • Dysplasia refers to abnormal cell changes of the cervix.
      Dysplasia refers to abnormal cell changes of the cervix.
    • A doctor may take a tissue sample for biopsy during a colposcopy.
      A doctor may take a tissue sample for biopsy during a colposcopy.
    • Women who smoke are more at risk for cervical dysplasia.
      Women who smoke are more at risk for cervical dysplasia.
    • Regular pap tests can detect cervical dysplasia, as cervical dysplasia is typically asymptomatic.
      Regular pap tests can detect cervical dysplasia, as cervical dysplasia is typically asymptomatic.