Dysplasia definition, treatment and cancer

Abnormal changes that are occurring in cells. In dysplasia, rapidly dividing cells form tissue that has an anomalous structure. This structure has the potential of transitioning to cancer. Dysplasia is an early stage of development for all cancers but not all dysplasia becomes cancer. Because there is no way to know which direction dysplasia will go, doctors closely monitor and often surgically remove or otherwise treat dysplasia. ROUTINE MEDICAL EXAMINATION or health screening commonly detects dysplasia, which seldom produces symptoms. Frequently identified dysplasias include cervical dysplasia, which affects a woman’s CERVIX, and oral dysplasia, which affects the mucous membranes in the MOUTH.

Doctors classify dysplasia according to the extent of disruption within the tissue. The earliest stage of dysplasia is hyperplasia, in which cells are growing more rapidly than normal but the structural integrity of the tissue remains normal. In mild dysplasia, the excessive cell growth produces erratic and abnormal tissue structure. In severe dysplasia, also called cancer in situ, cell growth and tissue structure are significantly abnormal but the irregularity remains confined to a single site. The risk for cancer in situ to evolve into a full cancer is high.

Treatment for dysplasia

Treatment for dysplasia depends on the severity and location of the dysplasia as well as other health factors-such as smoking, which increases risk for all types of cancer-or a condition such as INFECTION with HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV), which increases risk for cervical cancer. Mild dysplasia may revert to normal growth; often the doctor will recommend diligent observation with examination every three to six months to monitor cell activity at the site. Electrocautery (burning), cryotherapy (freezing), laser ablation, and surgical excision are among methods for eradicating dysplasia. Dysplasia may recur, depending on its cause, though in most circumstances does not return after treatment.


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