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When your biopsy is analysed in the laboratory, they will be looking for different changes in the cells.
The changes they review are:
If your biopsy comes back positive it is because you have abnormal cells or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), you will have both abnormal mature cells and variable quantities of immature abnormal cells. Abnormal cells may develop into cancer, so the quantity of these cells within the ectocervix is important. The grading of CIN is established according to the amount of immature cells within the sample taken and all the results below mean that you have cervical abnormalities.
Grading of CIN means that if you have:
Your biopsy letter may also mention the word koilocytosis or koilocytotic atypia. This just means that some of the cells in your biopsy show specific changes that are commonly caused by HPV infections. Koilocytosis is sometimes referred to as a calling card for HPV. It is often seen in biopsy samples that also have abnormal cell growth (sometimes called dysplasia). It is the abnormal cell growth that will be watched and treated if necessary, as it is these cells that may become precancerous or cancerous if left untreated.
Having cervical abnormalities does not mean that you have or will get cancer. It just means that the laboratory has detected some changes to your cells that are abnormal and, if they are not treated, they may develop into cervical cancer in the future.
Read our 'Understanding positive screening results and abnormal cells' document.
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