Is there a link between Severe Dyskaryosis and Cervical Cancer?

27 April 2017

If you are a woman over the age of 25, you will have been invited to undertake a cervical screening, also known by many as a smear test. It is a common misconception amongst many that smear tests are used to check for cancer, when in fact, they are carried out to identify changes in the cervix, no matter how big or small. As such, an abnormal smear result is actually very common – around one in 20 according to the NHS.

Diagram showing the cervical transformation zone

Abnormal smears

An abnormal smear result is categorised in three ways; mild dyskaryosis (CIN 1), moderate dyskaryosis (CIN 2) and severe dyskaryosis (CIN 3).

Essentially, the higher the categorisation, the greater the surface area of the cervix is affected by abnormal cells. Most of the time abnormal cells will go back to normal by themselves and no treatment will be required. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your test result.

Severe Dyskaryosis

A CIN 3 classification of severe dyskaryosis means that the full thickness of the cervix is affected. Treatment to remove the abnormal cells is usually required as a purely preventative measure, to ensure that the abnormal cells do not develop into cancer at a later time.

The most common treatment for high grade dyskaryosis is the LLETZ (Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone) procedure, with the aim of removing the abnormal cells from the cervix.

If following a cervical screening you have received a letter stating that you have high grade dyskaryosis, it is understandable that you might initially feel alarmed. However, it is important to clarify that even with such a result, it is very unlikely that cervical cancer is already present. It takes years for abnormal cells to develop into cancer, which is why regular smear tests are important to monitor changes and act on them where necessary.

In essence, you are highly unlikely to develop cervical cancer, providing you undergo regular cervical screenings and receive the correct treatment when advised by your doctor.

For women aged 25-49, screenings should take place every three years and for those aged 50-64, every five years.