The Pap test women undergo as part of a regular gynecological checkup is designed to reveal abnormal cells that may indicate a precancerous condition or actual cervical cancer. Pap tests are generally reliable, but with a caveat—they are only as good as the person interpreting the results.
A misread Pap test may mean an easily cured early cervical cancer may develop into something more sinister and potentially deadly. Squamous intraepithelial lesions, which can show up in low or high grades, are just one type of abnormal cells a Pap test is designed to detect. Schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney for more information.
Human Papilloma Virus and Cervical Cancer
Both types of squamous intraepithelial lesions are related to the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is generally the cause of cervical cancer and is transmitted by sexual intercourse. An HPV vaccine is now available, but many women have not received it.
Most HPV infections do not develop into cancer, but there are a small percentage that eventually do become malignant. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV is linked to cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, and penis, since the virus affects men and women.
Low Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions
A low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, also known as mild dysplasia, is often discovered through a positive finding on a Pap test. These are abnormal cells found on the cervix, which may go away on their own without treatment. However, without treatment these abnormal cells may also develop into cancer.
High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions
A high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, also known as moderate or severe dysplasia, is an area of abnormal cells that may appear not just on the cervix, but also on the vulva, vagina, and anus. These cells are obviously abnormal when viewed under a microscope. If a high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion is not discovered during a Pap test or treated properly after discovery, it may develop into invasive cancer.
The Pap test is used for screening, so while indicates that abnormal cells are present, it cannot determine if they are cancerous. To make that determination, the doctor must perform a cervical biopsy.
The cervical biopsy is usually done in conjunction with a colposcopy, which consists of an examination of the cervix via a lighted magnifying instrument. During this examination, the doctor takes cell or tissue samples for the biopsy. The sample is then analyzed in a laboratory.
If low or high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions are found, they are referred to as Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN), which is graded according to severity. One is the lowest grade, while two is moderate and three represents a high degree of risk.
A doctor should perform one of two types of treatment once CIN is confirmed. An LEEP, which stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, removes abnormal cervical tissue with a thin, electrified wire. Some doctors may prefer an ablative treatment such as cryotherapy or laser therapy, which destroys the abnormal tissue.
Talk to an Attorney About Misdiagnosis of Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions
If you or a loved one had either a low or high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion that was misread on a Pap test or the doctor did not pursue treatment and cervical cancer developed, call today to arrange an appointment with a dedicated medical malpractice lawyer. If you elect to retain one, your attorney could help you recover from the mishandling of your cancer diagnosis and work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.