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Cervical Dysplasia - What is Cervical Dysplasia?

The Basics of Cervical Dysplasia


Updated May 27, 2008

Cervical dysplasia is a common condition that describes abnormal precancerous changes to the cervix. Abnormal changes can range from mild to severe and are detected through a routine Pap smear.

Although untreated cervical dysplasia may lead to cervical cancer in some cases, having cervical dysplasia does not mean a person has cancer or will even develop the disease.

Cervical Dysplasia Symptoms

Women with cervical dysplasia do not usually have any symptoms. This is the reason why having a regular Pap smear is so important! A regular Pap smear can detect these abnormal cervical changes long before they turn cancerous.

Cervical Dysplasia Causes

There is a strong connection between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical dysplasia. HPV is a common virus spread through sexual contact. For most women, HPV and cervical dysplasia will clear up on it's own without medical treatment. However, for some women, HPV can lead to severe abnormal cervical changes. When left untreated, these change can lead to cervical cancer.

Studies also show that women who smoke increase their risk for developing cervical dysplasia. It has been found that smoking can actually accelerate the effects of HPV on the cervix. Another reason to kick the habit!

Other possible cervical dysplasia risk factors:
  • being HIV positive
  • having multiple sexual partners
  • giving birth before age twenty


"Cervical Cancer (PDQ®): Screening ." Natural History, Incidence, and Mortality . 21 July 2006. National Cancer Institute. 17 Oct 2006 <http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_is_cervical_cancer_8.asp>.

Solomon, MD, Diane, Diane Davey, MD; Robert Kurman, MD; Ann Moriarty, MD; Dennis O'Connor, MD; Marianne Prey, MD; Stephen Raab, MD; Mark Sherman, MD; David Wilbur, MD; Thomas Wright, Jr, MD; Diana, Nancy Young, MD. "The 2001 Bethesda System Terminology for Reporting Results of Cervical Cytology." The Journal of The American Medical Association 287(2002). "National Cancer Institute Fact Sheets." Human Papillomaviruses and Cancer: Questions and Answers. 06 June 2006. National Cancer Institute. 17 Oct 2006 <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/HPV>. Josefson, Deborah. "Mild cervical dysplasia often reverts to normal." British Medical Journal 31813 February 1999 17 October 2006 <http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1114903>.
Kaferle, M.D., Joyce, JEAN M. MALOUIN, M.D., M.P.H.. "Evaluation and Management of the AGUS Papanicolaou Smear." American Family Physician 63(2001).

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