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Cervical Cancer (cont.)

What Is the Medical Treatment for Precancerous Cervical Lesions?

Treatment for precancerous lesions differs from that of invasive cancer. Ideally, proper management of precancerous disease prevents the patient from ever getting invasive cervical cancer.

Precancerous Lesions

Choice of treatment for a precancerous lesion of the cervix depends on a number of factors. These factors include whether the lesion is low- or high-grade, whether a woman wants to have children in the future, her age and general health, and her preference and that of her health-care professional.

  • If a woman has a low-grade lesion, she may not need further treatment, especially if the abnormal area was completely removed during biopsy. She should have regular Pap smears and pelvic exams.
  • When a precancerous lesion requires treatment, cryosurgery (freezing), cauterization (burning, also called diathermy), or laser surgery may be used to destroy the abnormal area without harming nearby healthy tissue.
  • Abnormal tissue also can be removed by LEEP or conization.
  • Treatment for precancerous lesions may cause cramping or other pain, bleeding, or a watery vaginal discharge.

In some cases, a woman may choose to have a hysterectomy for precancerous changes, particularly if abnormal cells are found inside the opening of the cervix. This surgery is more likely to be done if a woman does not plan to have children in the future.

Diagnostic procedures, such as LEEP and cone biopsy, sometimes may be used as treatments as well.

  • Both of these procedures involve taking away some of the cervical tissue for evaluation.
  • If that evaluation finds that there were indeed abnormal cells but that those abnormal cells did not extend as far as the level where the tissue was cut, only follow-up may be needed.
  • If there is uncertainty about whether all of the precancerous cells have been removed using a LEEP or cone biopsy procedure, then further treatments may be required.

Cryocautery may be used in some cases.

  • In this procedure, a steel instrument is cooled to subzero temperatures by immersion in liquid nitrogen or a similar liquid.
  • This ultracooled instrument is then applied to the surface of the cervix.
  • The cells are frozen, and they eventually die and are sloughed off, to be replaced by new cervical cells.

Tissue may also be removed by laser ablation.

  • A laser beam is applied to either specific areas of cervical tissue or a whole layer of tissue at the surface of the cervix.
  • The laser destroys these cells, leaving healthy cells in their place.

The success of cryocautery or laser ablation procedures is determined by a follow-up examination and Pap smear.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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