Dear Julia, the objective of having a Pap smear test is to
identify cells that start to change. Once
cervical cells begin to change, it typically takes 10-15 years before
invasive cervical cancer develops. As the cells change, they first become
"pre-cancerous" – a condition also known as "dysplasia" or
CIN – the abbreviation for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. It is
important to remember that most people with CIN do not get cancer. If cancer
does form, it takes years to develop, giving doctors time to find and remove
LEEP stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. It is
a treatment that prevents cervical cancer. A
small electrical wire loop is used to remove abnormal cells from the cervix. LEEP surgery may
be performed after abnormal cells are found following
a Pap test, colposcopy, or biopsy. It is estimated that 5% of CIN 2 and
12% of CIN 3 cases may progress to invasive cancer if untreated. In general, it
takes 10 to 20 years for CIN to
progress to cancer, allowing a significant time period for detection and
treatment. Progression from CIN to cancer requires persistent HPV infection.
If not treated, these abnormal cells may
become cancer and spread to nearby normal tissue. Treatment for CIN 3 may
include cryotherapy, laser therapy, loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP), or cone biopsy
to remove or destroy the abnormal tissue. (MCH).
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