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"What is LSIL?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is LSIL?


My OBGYN just told me that my pap smear indicated an LSIL result. I've been reading online and it's confusing ? is LSIL a disease, or does it just mean that there might be a problem? He said I need a colposcopy, but I want to know what I'm getting into.


You should not feel bad that the terminology around Pap smears seems confusing; there are many different terms and I suspect that doctors sometimes even confuse them. I will try to briefly explain what they mean, how they are related, and what they mean for you. When a doctor performs a Pap smear he or she takes a small sample of superficial cells that line the cervix. The results typically reported are normal, atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US), low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL), high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL). There are a few other results that can be reported, but they are less common. Nevertheless, none of the above results represents an actual disease per se. What they represent, generally speaking, is the likelihood that cervical cancer is present with normal being the lowest likelihood and HSIL being the highest likelihood of cancer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published guidelines in 2006 for the management of abnormal Pap smears. For those with normal findings no special follow-up is necessary other than continued routine screening. For those with ASC-US the preferred option is to test for the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is linked with cervical cancer. Except in certain special groups such as pregnant women and teens, it is generally recommended that colposcopy be performed for LSIL, which is a procedure that uses an instrument to magnify the cervix and allow doctors to better visualize abnormal cells and take tissue samples. For HSIL the general recommendation is that all women undergo colposcopy. It is only after a colposcopy has been performed can doctors determine if a specific disease such as cancer is present. Your primary care provider or OB/Gyn can further discuss the treatment options with you.

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