What does dysplasia mean?

Dysplasia can happen anywhere in the body. It is a word pathologists use to describe a group of cells showing an abnormal pattern of growth and maturation. This change can only be seen when the tissue is examined under the microscope.

Dysplasia and grade

When dysplasia is found it is usually given a grade. Grade is a way of describing how different the abnormal cells are from the normal, healthy cells usually found in that location. In most parts of the body the grade will be divided into low to high. High grade cells are more abnormal looking than low grade cells.

In some parts of the body pathologists divide this change into mild, moderate, and severe.

Tissue showing low grade (mild) dysplasia can return to normal over time or change to high grade dysplasia. High grade (severe) dysplasia is usually considered a pre-cancerous condition that can progress to cancer if left untreated.

The risk of cancer associated with this change depends on the type of tissue involved, the grade, and the time from diagnosis to treatment.

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