You have probably already read about the process I went through to come to the diagnosis of cervical cancer. But I have a few more details to share with you.
My routine Pap smear only showed mild dysplasia. Before testing for HPV was added to the Pap smear, mild dysplasia would not have raised any eyebrows. Generally, doctors said to come back in 6 months, and they would do another Pap to see if it was still abnormal. Most of the time, dysplasia clears on its own.
But because my HPV was also positive, my doctor wanted to make sure that there was nothing else going on, which is why she did the biopsies with the colposcopy.
She was rather surprised to find moderate dysplasia. That is harder to justify leaving alone, though. She recommended a LEEP to see if that's all it was or something worse. A LEEP can be all a woman needs to get rid of the dysplasia sometimes. As my doctor explained to me, the LEEP removes part of the "transformation zone" of the cervix. That's the tissue that cervical cancer develops in.
The results of my LEEP, though, did show a small tumor that was classified as "micro-invasive." That means it was not just on the surface; it was a bit deeper, but still just barely penetrating into the next tissue layer. And because the tumor was right on the edge of the tissue removed by the LEEP, I had to have more surgery to confirm that it was all removed.
My doctor told me that she did not expect to find cancer when she recommended doing the LEEP. She thought it was just show more dysplasia, which the LEEP would remove, and that would be the end. I remember her using the phrase "circuitous route" to diagnose me because nothing was really out of the ordinary on my initial Pap smear. I guess I was lucky to have a doctor who dug a little deeper.