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What is Moderate Dysplasia?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Moderate dysplasia is a medical term that refers to abnormal cell growth on the outer layer of the cervix in women. It is usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. Women with this level of abnormal growth do not typically notice physical symptoms, and a diagnosis is made only after a medical professional receives abnormal Pap smear results. Treatment procedures to remove damaged tissue are usually effective, and most women experience a full recovery. A case of dysplasia that goes unnoticed or untreated, however, can eventually lead to cervical cancer.

HPV does not always cause dysplasia, but the disease is a significant warning sign that abnormal cervical tissue growth might occur. The presence of this virus can result in dysplastic cells — cells that do not mature correctly and tend to spread across the outer layer of the cervix. These cells are considered precancerous because, without treatment, it is highly possible that carcinoma and eventual cervical cancer will emerge.

Dysplasia is classified according to the Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) scale. The CIN recognizes mild, moderate, and severe dysplasia based on the number of damaged cells and the progression of cancerous conditions. In a cervix with moderate dysplasia, about half of the total tissue is affected. Moderate and severe cases are deemed high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions and run the highest risk of developing into cancer. Early detection and diagnosis are essential to prevent this from happening.

Gynecologists usually notice the first signs of dysplasia when they perform routine Pap smears that reveal the presence of HPV. A closer inspection of the cervix may reveal visible lesions on abnormal tissue. A medical professional can take a biopsy of cervical tissue to further inspect its contents and determine the stage of progression based on the CIN. Some instances of dysplasia will naturally dissipate in time, but the majority of gynecologists prefer to attempt treatment procedures to ensure a proper recovery.

Treatment for moderate dysplasia may take the form of laser therapy, cryotherapy, a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), or a cone biopsy. A healthcare professional can attempt to destroy the damaged cells with specialized lasers or freeze them with carbon dioxide in cryotherapy. In a LEEP, the gynecologist uses an electrified wire loop to scrape away abnormal cells. In more severe cases, larger areas of tissue are cut away in a cone-shaped biopsy. When treatment is effective at removing all abnormal cells, a woman is likely to experience a full recovery.

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.
Discussion Comments
By anon295821 — On Oct 08, 2012

I have moderate dysplasia and I was given the HPV Vaccine when I was younger. Unfortunately, the vaccine only protects against a few of the larger strands of HPV, not all of them.

By JessicaLynn — On Jun 24, 2011

@sunnyskys - HPV does cause a lot of problems, including cervical dysplasia, but I'm hesitant to say that all young women should get the vaccine. I personally don't think the vaccine has been around long enough for us to truly know what the side effects are. I think this is an issue every woman needs to decide for themselves.

By sunnySkys — On Jun 21, 2011

Moderate dysplasia of the cervix is yet another reason the HPV vaccine should be given all young women. HPV can cause a ton of problems in the female reproductive system and condoms don't protect against it adequately. All of these problems could be avoided if everyone just got the vaccine!

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