We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Koilocytosis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Koilocytosis is a form of cellular change that can be observed in the epithelial cells that line the cervix with some types of medical conditions. While it is not itself malignant, it can be a warning sign of malignancy or another medical problem. If a smear test reveals koilocytosis upon laboratory examination, additional follow-up tests may be recommended to learn more about the source of the change and the patient may be advised to get rigorous screenings in the future in order to identify any malignant changes as early as possible. Patients with a history of abnormal smear tests who are changing doctors should make sure that their history is noted.

In koilocytosis, the nuclei of the cells become enlarged, growing two to three times larger than they should. The nuclei may also be very dark and stain readily, a trait known as hyperchromasia. In addition, the contours of the nuclei appear to be surrounded by halos or rings. Perinuclear halos, as they are known, are a signature calling card of koilocytosis. These cellular changes are visible upon staining and magnification in a lab setting.

The most common reason for this change to occur is infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can cause cellular changes in infected women, including changes that develop into malignancies. Koilocytosis is also present in cancerous and precancerous cells. Because it can be associated with cancer, when koilocytosis is identified, additional medical screening is needed to learn more about why the cells are changing.

A procedure known as a colposcopy can be used to take a larger biopsy sample while examining the area in question under very clear, bright illumination. This procedure offers care providers an opportunity to identify cellular changes and take samples from specific areas for follow-up. The biopsy sample will be tested in a lab for abnormalities and a report will be generated with more information for the clinician.

Some patients may have HPV for life and not experience any additional medical problems, even if abnormal cells do develop. Other patients may develop cervical cancer. Regular screening allows a doctor to identify the signs of malignancies as early as possible so that appropriate treatments and interventions can be provided. Patients who have an abnormal smear test result should not panic. There are many factors that can cause abnormal results and the usual recommended response is more testing to confirm that there are abnormalities and to learn more about the cellular changes that are occurring.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon293001 — On Sep 23, 2012

@MissDaphne: That is not true. I have koilocytes and do *not* have HPV. I know this because I have had an HPV-specific test. Even above it says "most commonly" with HPV but that "Koilocytosis is also present in cancerous and precancerous cells".

@rugbygirl: Your friend's daughter should look further into it and see if she can discover the source of her koilocytosis if she is certain it's not HPV. They can run a specific HPV test to see if that is the cause.

By MissDaphne — On Jun 12, 2011

@rugbygirl - I'm pretty sure that koilocytes are only found when there's HPV. Your friend's daughter, unfortunately, has genital warts and is at high risk for cervical cancer.

But tell your friend there's no reason to panic. A dear friend of mine has this virus; I don't think she's ever had an abnormal Pap, but she's had the virus since she was a teen and is now in her mid-thirties with three lovely, healthy kids. But this girl should be screened as often as every six months so that if, God forbid, she were to develop cervical cancer, it would be caught at an early, treatable stage. No point taking chances with her health.

By rugbygirl — On Jun 11, 2011

Are there any causes of koilocytosis besides HPV? My friend's college- age daughter has had an abnormal Pap test but is denying to her mother that she has an STD. My friend won't be mad at her daughter (except maybe for the lying), she just wants to know what's going on so she can best help her.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.