Results explained

The abnormal cellThe basic unit of all living organisms. changes that sometimes progress to cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. may be termed cervical intraepithelial neoplasiaAbnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. (CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer.). An alternative name is squamous intraepithelial lesionAn area of tissue that appears abnormal because of disease or trauma. (SIL).

Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia

The term cervical intraepithelial neoplasiaAbnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. (known as 'CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer.') is used to describe the abnormal tissue of the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus.. CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. grades represent a spectrum of changes from the healthy cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus.: from minimal change through more marked abnormalities, up to cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

A biopsyThe removal of a small sample of cells or tissue so that it may be examined under a microscope. The term may also refer to the tissue sample itself., when a small piece of tissue is taken from the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus. (see the quick guide, Biopsies), is the only way to diagnose CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. with some certainty.

There are three grades of CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer., depending on how far the abnormal cells extend through the outer layer of the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus. (epitheliumThe outer layer of cells covering the open surfaces of the body, both over external surfaces and lining hollow structures.), as follows:

  • CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 1: Up to a third of the depth of epitheliumThe outer layer of cells covering the open surfaces of the body, both over external surfaces and lining hollow structures. is affected
  • CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 2: Up to two thirds of the epitheliumThe outer layer of cells covering the open surfaces of the body, both over external surfaces and lining hollow structures. is affected
  • CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 3: The abnormal cells extend through the full thickness of the epitheliumThe outer layer of cells covering the open surfaces of the body, both over external surfaces and lining hollow structures..

Most CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 1 abnormalities result from transient infections with human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers., and many will return to normal with time, without treatment. CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 2 and CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 3 usually develop with persistent human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers. infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. and are more likely to progress.

Squamous intraepithelial lesion

This complicated medical term, abbreviated to SIL, also describes the abnormal changes in the tissue of the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus.. The word 'squamous' refers to the type of cells lying over the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus.. 'Intraepithelial' refers to the layer of tissue that the cells are found in, and 'lesionAn area of tissue that appears abnormal because of disease or trauma.' simply means abnormal tissue.

Cervical screening test findings may also describe the degree of cellThe basic unit of all living organisms. change, or dyskaryosisAbnormal appearance of a cell, where the nucleus looks irregular but the rest of the cell looks fairly normal.. Alternatively, the findings may be reported according to the Bethesda system.

Degree of dyskaryosis

  • Inconclusive or borderline - this description is used when there is doubt as to the diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have., and includes changes that may be caused, for example, by infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. or recent sexual intercourse, as well as the possibility of cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.

Moderate and severe dyskaryosisAbnormal appearance of a cell, where the nucleus looks irregular but the rest of the cell looks fairly normal. changes are not cancers in themselves... Treatment is simple and effective, and can usually be given as an outpatient

  • Normal
  • Mild dyskaryosisAbnormal appearance of a cell, where the nucleus looks irregular but the rest of the cell looks fairly normal. - refers to minor changes in the cells that often return to normal by themselves, and so are sometimes monitored rather than being treated immediately. This finding corresponds to CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 1 described above
  • Moderate dyskaryosisAbnormal appearance of a cell, where the nucleus looks irregular but the rest of the cell looks fairly normal. - corresponds to CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 2 above
  • Severe dyskaryosisAbnormal appearance of a cell, where the nucleus looks irregular but the rest of the cell looks fairly normal. - corresponds to CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 3 above.

Moderate and severe dyskaryosisAbnormal appearance of a cell, where the nucleus looks irregular but the rest of the cell looks fairly normal. changes are not cancers in themselves, but are less likely to return to normal if left alone and more likely to progress to more serious changes. Treatment is simple and effective, and can usually be given as an outpatient.

The Bethesda system

Using the Bethesda system, abnormal findings can be broadly divided as follows:

  • Atypical squamous cells. The word 'atypical' is used to describe changes in the cells of the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus. that are not completely characteristic of a squamous intraepithelial lesionAn area of tissue that appears abnormal because of disease or trauma., although this may still be the cause
  • Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesionAn area of tissue that appears abnormal because of disease or trauma. (LSIL) corresponds to CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 1 described above
  • High-grade squamous intraepithelial lesionAn area of tissue that appears abnormal because of disease or trauma. (HSIL) corresponds to CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 2 and CINAn abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal changes in the cervix of the uterus that may resolve spontaneously, or may progress to cervical cancer. 3 above.

These results guide further management, but this, too, can vary from country to country. In the US, for example, women with a low-grade lesionAn area of tissue that appears abnormal because of disease or trauma. are usually referred directly for colposcopyClose examination of the cervix of the uterus using a magnifying instrument with attached light source, known as a colposcope.. In Canada and the Netherlands, meanwhile, repeat cervical screening tests would usually be recommended, reserving colposcopyClose examination of the cervix of the uterus using a magnifying instrument with attached light source, known as a colposcope. for those women who have persistent changes.