A low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion is an unusual growth of cells, which is thought to be just at a commencement phase. It is the precancerous stage of the cancer of the cervix in which cancer may or may not develop. Squamous cells are part of the epithelial cells and they help in absorption, movement, and distribution of certain nutrients and liquids in body. When there is an abnormal growth of squamous cells at the cervix surface, it can cause what is known as squamous intraepithelial lesion.
The bottom part of uterus is the one referred to as cervix. Cervix and uterus are found in the pelvis part of the body, which is close to the top part of the ovaries and vagina. Cervix is the lower thin portion of uterus joining with the upper end of the vagina. There are mainly two types of cells in the cervix and they include the squamous epithelial cells and the columnar epithelial cells. The squamous epithelial cells form the lining of the outer part of cervix while columnar epithelial cells form the lining of the inner part of cervix.
Moreover, there are two types of squamous intraepithelial lesions or precancerous lesions and they include the low-grade and high-grade. Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions show a few changes in their size, number and shape. These cells have only a few abnormal characteristics and look similar to normal cells. When precancerous cells are detected in advance, they can be prevented from becoming cancerous.
Precancerous low-grade lesions are also referred to as mild dysplasia. These cells can advance and form high-grade squamous intraepithelial cells, which may look abnormal under the microscope. These high-grade lesions have not invaded deepest parts of cervix but they show a higher probability of suffering cervical cancer. They are referred to as severe dysplasia or carcinoma in situ, which implies the early stage of cancer.
Causes of low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion
In case of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, the cells have not grown very unusual and cervix has not been affected much. The low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions are triggered by conditions like infections, an injury or at times there may be no identifiable cause. When complications arise in the process of healing of an injury, it may result to low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions. Sometimes, these changes in cells may go on their own.
Almost all cases of cancer of the cervix are caused by oncogenic or high-risk infection mostly human papillomavirus, or HPV infections. The HPV infections are quite common but they can be suppressed by the body immune system without causing cancer. When infection of the cervix is caused by high-risk human papillomavirus, and it persists for some time, it can result to temporally changes in the cervix cells. Eventually the cells can develop to precancerous lesions. Without proper treatment, precancerous cells can progress to a cancer. It may take about 10 to 20 years or so to develop cancer from persist and serious infection with high-risk HPV.
A Pap smear or colposcopy is applied in testing for these low-grade squamous epithelial lesions. Pap smear is a testing procedure used to find out abnormal characteristics in cells. The specimen cells are scraped from the loose cells of the cervix and they are spread or smeared on a transparent slide and examined with the help of a microscope.
Similarly, colposcopy entails analysis of the cervix and vagina using magnifying equipment referred to as colposcope. The most effective way of diagnosing low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion is through a biopsy with colposcopy equipment. In bioscopy examination, living tissues are removed from part of the body being tested and then examined through a microscope or through a culture to aid in diagnosing the problem. From the examination, a doctor can establish a pattern of the disease or make an estimate on the progressive advancement of the cell abnormality changes.
Relation to cervical cancer
The presence of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions is not an implication that you have cancerous growth. When these cells are detected, it means that changes in the cells are occurring and they may precedent the occurrence of cancer. They are likely to trigger before cancer starts growing. They may be regarded as warning signs of cervical cancer, which may happen to take place after some time
It is estimated that less than 1 percent of women who show positive test results for low-grade intraepithelial lesion using Pag smear are able to develop cervix cancer in the next two years. There is a marginally very low probability of developing cancer of the cervix when the results have shown presence of these unusual changes in cells. Nonetheless, it is important to get treatment for the same to prevent any eventuality that may lead to a cancerous stage.
Although these abnormal changes in cells of the cervix may be noticed in a low grade-squamous intraepithelial lesion test, they may go away on their own without undergoing treatment. On the other hand, they can still develop to cancer stage when left untreated. If the condition is mild meaning the changes are fewer and mild, there is more likelihood that they will disappear on their own.
But doctors at times do not want to take chances and may decide to remove them since there is possibility that they may advance to cancerous form. Treatment is done to remove or destroy the abnormal cells allowing new living and well- functional cells to grow in the cervix. One technique used in destroying these cells is through use of below-extreme cold temperatures. Laser instruments may also be used to destroy them with a high frequency light beam.
Electrical current or heat may be applied to destroy these cells. If the prevalence of the cells abnormality is higher, then the area or tissue affected may be removed. Freezing is normally used in tiny tissue areas and if the abnormality has affected larger areas, then this procedure may not be apt.
For bigger areas with changes in cells, laser or electrical energy and heating may be more appropriate. Most of the abnormalities of the cells occur in the transformation zone that is located outside of or inside the cervix canal In this area, the cells are tall and look like a column and they are known as columnar cells. These columnar cells are began a transformation process and are changed into what is referred to as squamous cells.