Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), also known as cervical dysplasia, refers to abnormal changes in the cells on the surface of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) in a female that opens at the top of the vagina. These changes in the cervical cells can develop at any age, but they are most common in women ages to 25-35. The changes that occur as a result are not cancerous, but they can lead to cancer if the cervix is not treated.
The condition is most often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread through sexual contact (please also see: HPV). Other risk factors include sexual activity prior to age 18, multiple sexual partners, having a baby before age 16, smoking and other illnesses or medications that weaken the immune system. There are usually no symptoms, but CIN can be detected through a pap smear and often need to be confirmed through a biopsy (a sampling of cells from the affected area). Treatment is only needed if changes do not go away or get worse for mild CIN. For moderate-to-severe dysplasia a doctor may have to freeze abnormal cells, laser therapy, or surgery to remove the abnormal tissue. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment cures most cases of cervical dysplasia. However, the condition may return. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia talk to your doctor about treatment options. Support groups are also a good source of information and support.