Health Concerns

Cervical Dysplasia

Conventional Treatment Of Cervical Dysplasia And Cancer

Cervical Dysplasia

The success rate of treating early-stage cervical dysplasia is extremely high. During treatment, a physician will attempt to remove the abnormal cells through a variety of methods, including cryotherapy, or freezing the cells to destroy them.

Alternatively, a procedure called loop electrosurgical excision may be performed. During this procedure, a thin wire loop with an electrical current is used to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue. Women treated with loop excision are likely to convert to HPV-negative status, which eliminates the risk for HPV-related cervical dysplasia and cancer (Aschkenazi-Steinberg 2005). If a larger area of the cervix contains abnormal cells, a gynecologist may perform a surgical procedure called cervical conization to remove all the abnormal cells.

In case of high-grade CIN, or if previous surgeries left too little cervical tissue, a hysterectomy may be recommended (Das 2005). In rare advanced cases, all the organs of the pelvis can be removed in a procedure called pelvic exenteration. Except for hysterectomy or pelvic exenteration, the surgical choices typically allow a woman to carry a child in future pregnancies.

Cervical Cancer

Sometimes radiation or chemotherapy is required in addition to surgery for cancers that are recurrent or have spread beyond the pelvis. Survival rates depend on the stage of the cancer. With treatment, five-year survival rates are 80 to 85 percent for cervical and uterine tumors, 60 to 80 percent for tumors involving the upper part of the vagina, 30 to 50 percent for tumors still retained in the pelvis, and 14 percent when cancer has invaded the bladder or rectum or metastasized outside the pelvis.

Vaccines and Antivirals: Hope for the Future?

Recently, media attention has focused on possible vaccines for cervical cancer. Although these vaccines are still in the development stage, a vaccine for low-grade dysplasia will likely be available soon (Stanley 2003).

Large-scale trials have shown that developmental vaccines have reduced the rate of HPV infection and CIN (Villa 2005; Torrens 2005). One factor that may complicate a successful vaccination program is a lack of vaccines in developing countries (where vaccines are most needed); another is a lack of vaccines that are specific to certain types of HPV (Maclean 2005).

However, given their early record, it appears that vaccines may soon offer hope of dramatically reducing the rate of HPV infection and in turn, the rates of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer.


What You Have Learned So Far

  • Cervical dysplasia is a proliferation of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix.
  • Cervical dysplasia left untreated may develop into cervical cancer.
  • Cervical cancer is the second-most common type of cancer in women.
  • Early detection and treatment of cervical cancer are highly effective. The mortality rate for untreated cervical cancer is 95 percent within two years.
  • The survival rate for properly treated early-stage cervical cancers is between 70 and 100 percent.
  • Virtually 100 percent of cases of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer are the result of HPV.
  • The lifetime risk of contracting a genital HPV infection is about 80 percent in women.
  • Not all women with HPV will develop dysplasia or cancer of the cervix.
  • Only 1 percent of women with HPV develop external warts.
  • Dysplasia does not cause symptoms.
  • The lack of symptoms in dysplasia, infrequent screening, and various risk factors sometimes allow cervical dysplasia to develop into cervical cancer.
  • The Pap smear is the standard screening tool to detect dysplasia.