Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN

What is CGIN?

Most women who have a cervical screening test (smear) have a normal result, but about 7-10% of women tested have atypical or abnormal cells (Cervical Screening Programme England 2010 -11). The abnormal cells may need further investigation. Often the changes are due to inflammation or infection.

The transformation zone is an area of the cervix where abnormal cells most commonly develop; they can be detected by cervical screening and colposcopy. Two different cervical cell types can become abnormal. The inside of the cervix (endocervix) is lined by glandular cells. The outside of the cervix (ectocervix) is lined by squamous cells. Squamous cell lesions can be seen in 90% of all cervical abnormalities. When diagnosed, these abnormalities are a pre-cancerous condition known as CIN (see ‘What is CIN?’).

The inner part of the cervix within the cervical canal has different glandular cells and these pre-cancerous changes are called adenocarcinoma in situ or CGIN and can be seen in the remaining 10% of all cervical abnormalities.

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CGIN stands for Cervical Glandular Intra-epithelial Neoplasia. It is an abnormality of the glandular tissue in the cervix. This abnormality is in the tissue extending into the womb from the transformation zone. CGIN is usually classified as low grade or high grade. High grade CGIN is the equivalent of CIN3.

CGIN can be multi-focal – this means that more than one area is affected at one time, with normal tissue lying between them. As it can be difficult to monitor and assess this type of abnormality, further hospital based care is usually offered, often as an outpatient.

CGIN is not cancer but, if left untreated, these changes may develop into a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma (‘adeno’ means gland). A cervical screening test (smear) can also detect early cancer of the cervix, but very few women with an abnormal test result actually have cancer of the cervix.

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Last reviewed April 2012.
Last updated April 2012.

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