What is it?
‘Cervical’ refers to the cervix, which is the neck of the uterus that juts into the top of the vagina. ‘Dysplasia’ means that cells are growing in a disorganised way.
Cervical dysplasia is thus a term which describes pre-cancerous or potentially cancerous cell abnormalities of the cervix, usually picked up on a pap smear.
The term ‘cervical intraepithelial neoplasia’ (CIN) is also used to describe these pre-cancerous changes, and is graded from 1 to 3 to depict the degree of abnormality. CIN 1 = mild dysplasia, CIN 2 = moderate dysplasia and CIN 3 = severe dysplasia.
To confirm the diagnosis made via the pap smear, a more definitive test called a colposcopy is usually performed. This is where the cervix is examined using a special microscope (colposcope). The doctor paints the cervix with acetic acid (a vinegar-type solution) and then a dye, which will show up any abnormal lesions. From the patient’s point of view this procedure is just like having a pap smear, in that a speculum is inserted into the vagina. The colposcopy itself is painless but takes about fifteen minutes. If necessary, a small biopsy (tissue sample) may be taken from a suspicious area and examined by a pathologist to give an accurate diagnosis.
What causes it?
The exact cause of cervical dysplasia is unknown. However, it occurs more frequently in women who have been sexually active from a young age and that it is unusual in celibate or homosexual women. It is also often associated with human papilloma (wart) virus and herpes virus infections.
It is not a certainty that all cases of cervical dysplasia will develop into a cancer. In many instances our immune system deals with the abnormality and the cervix returns to normal. For this reason, mild dysplasia (CIN 1) may be treated conservatively and just observed via repeated pap smears or a follow-up colposcopy. Whether this approach is taken is usually a matter for discussion between you and your doctor. For moderate to severe dysplasia (CIN 2 and 3), treatment aimed at removing or destroying the abnormal cells will usually be recommended. These treatments include laser vaporisation, electrocoagulation diathermy or cryotherapy (freezing). To help eradicate mild dysplasia, or prevent a recurrence after treatment, the following nutritional and lifestyle changes are highly recommended. They must, of course, be accompanied by regular follow-up pap smears to check your progress.
Avoid smoking. Yoga or meditation are beneficial, possibly using visualization techniques where you actually try to visualize the abnormal cells being replaced by new healthy cells. This may sound fanciful but the power of the mind is often underestimated!
Follow the principles of the liver cleansing diet
outlined on pages 20 – 27 of “The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book”
Include often – fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organically grown; sources of folic acid (eg liver, green vegetables, eggs, beans, brewer’s yeast); sources of zinc (eg seafood, ginger, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds). Raw nuts and seeds are a good source of minerals.
Avoid – refined sugars; white flour products, fried foods and margarine.
Raw juices based on carrot are beneficial as carrots are rich in beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) – diets deficient in Vitamin A have been associated with an increased risk of cervical dysplasia. Beta carotene is vital for the health of the mucous membranes.
• “Cancer” juice recipe on page 62
• “Immune Dysfunction juice” on page 103
Antioxidant nutrients form the basis of a supplement program for the prevention of cancers. Research has suggested that antioxidants may help to protect against cervical cancer.
- Take 1 capsule daily. An organic selenium formula can help to protect DNA and encourage healthy cell formation.
- Take 2 tablets twice daily to facilitate the action of folic acid and maintain healthy cell membranes.
- Take one capsule daily with food. Vitamin D helps to encourage healthy cell replication.
- Take 1 capsule three times daily. N-acetyl cysteine helps to increase production of the body’s own powerful antioxidant called glutathione.
Orthodox Medical Treatment
As outlined above, for mild dysplasia immediate treatment may be recommended, or a more conservative approach adopted via repeat smears and colposcopy. Moderate to severe dysplasia is more serious, and definitive treatment is usually undertaken to avoid the risk of progression to cervical cancer. The abnormal cells are removed via laser, diathermy or freezing. This can often be performed in the gynaecologist’s consulting room, or may require a day stay in hospital. If the abnormal cells appear to extend up the endocervical canal a ‘cone biopsy’ may be required. This involves the surgical removal of a cone-shaped section of the cervix. Prognosis is excellent following these treatments. However, repeat pap smears at three to six monthly intervals will be required for one to two years.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease.