Cervical Cancer (cont.)
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Cervical Cancer: Abnormal Cells
Over the years, different terms have been used to refer to abnormal changes in the cells on the surface of the cervix. These changes are now most often called squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL). "Lesion" refers to an area of abnormal tissue; intraepithelial means that the abnormal cells are present only in the surface layer of cells. Changes in these cells can be divided into two categories.
Precancerous cells, even high-grade lesions, usually do not become cancerous and invade deeper layers of the cervix for many months, perhaps years.
A woman should ask her health care professional if she does not understand the way the result of her Pap smear is reported.
If abnormal cells spread deeper into the cervix or to other tissues or organs, the disease is then called cervical cancer, or invasive cervical cancer. Cervical cancer occurs most often in women aged 40 years or older.
If the biopsy results show invasive cancer, a series of tests will be performed, all designed to see whether the cancer has spread and, if so, how far. The extent of spread of a cancer is referred to as the stage of the cancer.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/28/2013
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