Cervical Dysplasia (cont.)
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Cervical Dysplasia Diagnosis
Traditionally, the Papanicolaou test (Pap test or Pap smear) has been the screening method of choice for detecting cervical dysplasia. For this test a sample of cells from the surface of the cervix is removed by the healthcare practitioner during a pelvic examination with a speculum in place for visualization. The cells are smeared onto a glass slide, stained, and observed under the microscope for any evidence of dysplasia or cancer. The cervical sample may also be placed into a vial of liquid that is later used to prepare a microscope slide for examination.
If the screening tests show abnormal appearing (dysplastic) cells, the results are given as one of the following categories:
Further testing may be required if the screening test is abnormal. Further tests may include:
Colposcopy, or a procedure that uses a microscope to visualize the cervix during a pelvic exam. Colposcopy can help identify abnormal areas on the cervix and is a safe procedure with no complications other than mild vaginal spotting of blood.
Biopsies, or tissue samples for examination under the microscope, may be taken of suspicious areas seen during colposcopy.
When dysplasia is identified in tissue biopsies of the cervix, the term cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) is used. CIN is classified according to the extent to which the abnormal, or dysplastic, cells are seen in the cervical lining tissue:
HPV testing to detect whether or not HPV infection with a "high-risk" HPV type is present may be recommended for some women, particularly in the case of uncertain results from a screening test (as with smears interpreted as ASC-US, see above). Because a large number of women are infected with HPV and because the infection can be temporary and short-lived, regular screening of all women for HPV infection is not felt to be useful and is not routinely performed in the U.S.
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