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Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is cervical intraepithelial neoplasia?

Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia occurs when there are changes in the cells on the surface of your cervix. It is also called cervical dysplasia, or CIN. The cervix is where the lower part of the uterus meets the vagina. CIN may develop into cancer if it is not found and treated.

What causes CIN?

CIN is most often caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The following may increase your risk for CIN:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Exposure to certain medicines, such as diethylstilbestrol (DES)
  • Having a child before age 16
  • Having sex for the first time before age 18
  • Multiple sexual partners

How is CIN diagnosed?

CIN is usually found after one or more of the following tests:

  • A Papanicolaou (Pap) test is done during a pelvic exam to check for abnormal cells in the cervix. Cells are collected and sent to a lab for tests. The sample may also be checked for HPV.
  • A colposcopy is a procedure where your healthcare provider uses a small scope with a light to look more closely at your cervix and vagina.
  • A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is removed from your cervix. It may be taken during a colposcopy. The sample is sent to a lab and tested for abnormal cells.

How do healthcare providers classify CIN?

Healthcare providers classify CIN based upon how thick and how deep abnormal cells are found on your cervix.

  • CIN I is also called mild CIN. This occurs when there are only a few abnormal cells found on the surface of your cervix.
  • CIN II is also called moderate CIN. This occurs when ⅔ of the lining of your cervix has abnormal cells.
  • CIN III is also called severe CIN or carcinoma-in-situ. This means that the entire lining of your cervix has abnormal cells. This often progresses to become cervical cancer.

How is CIN treated?

No treatment is usually needed for mild CIN. Your healthcare provider may want you to have more frequent Pap tests. You may also need to have more frequent colposcopies to see if the cells have changed. If you have moderate or severe CIN, you may need surgery to burn, freeze, or remove the abnormal cells.

How can I manage my condition?

  • Have regular Pap tests. Ask your healthcare provider how often you should have a Pap test.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases the risk of CIN. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.

How can I prevent another HPV infection?

  • Ask about a vaccination to reduce the risk of HPV infection. If you are younger than 26 years old, you may be able to receive a vaccine to prevent an HPV infection.
  • Use a condom when you have sex.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have heavy vaginal bleeding (soaking 1 pad every hour).
  • You have yellow or foul smelling discharge from your vagina.
  • You have severe abdominal pain or vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have sudden shortness of breath.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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