Cancer. Just the word is enough to send shivers down anybody’s spine; cervical dysplasia, not so much. And yet, the latter, left untreated, can be just as deadly as the former. The only difference? It isn’t talked about enough.
Cervical dysplasia pertains to the appearance of precancerous cells in and around the cervix. It can be diagnosed with a biopsy. Although considered a precursor to cancer, cervical dysplasia doesn’t mean you have cancer. It just means you need to watch out. Cervical dysplasia typically does not display any symptoms; regular preventive screening is the only way to detect it and stay one step ahead (ask your doctor how often you should be tested).
As cervical cells age, they run the risk of succumbing to cervical dysplasia. But there are other causes and risk factors that increase a woman’s likelihood of developing the condition. Human papillomavirus, or HPV, has been identified as the leading cause of cervical dysplasia.
With more than 200 different types of HPV viruses – over 40 sexually transmittable and 12 deemed as high-risk for cancer – the virus is the most common sexually transmitted, cancer-causing disease.
Worried? Don’t be. HPV alone doesn’t equate to cervical cancer. However, certain types – type 16 and 18 in particular – are known to be triggers. Other risk factors include being sexually active before the age of 18, consuming immunity-compromising medicines and smoking.
There is no sacrosanct line of treatment for cervical dysplasia. Treatments are typically tailored to a woman’s medical history based on the proportion of cancerous cells. While mild cases usually diminish on their own over time, more severe cases require medical or surgical intervention – the latter including options like loop electrosurgical excision procedure, cryosurgery and surgical removal of abnormal cells.
In rare cases, when other methods are exhausted, a hysterectomy may be advised to extract the cervix entirely. If you display even a slight degree of abnormal cells, it is likely that your doctor will ask you to start seeking pap smears annually.
Cervical dysplasia can be a precious clue that your body needs help, and early intervention can be golden in treating it completely. Remember, the condition can creep back, so it’s important to be regular with screening even after successful treatment. By staying proactive, you can shield yourself against cervical cancer and give yourself a new lease of life.
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