When your biopsy is analysed in the laboratory, they will be looking for different changes in the cells.
The changes they review are:

  • The cell nucleus – irregular size, shape and colour of the cell nucleus is the first indication of an abnormality.
  • The maturity of the cells – a normal cell will grow from an immature to mature cell. Cells that are abnormal can often still grow into mature cervical cells which still function in a similar way to normal cells. If the abnormal cells still mature this indicates a low grade abnormality (e.g. CIN 1). New cells that grow with increased abnormalities may no longer be able to function normally and may remain as immature abnormal cells. The more immature the abnormal cells there are the higher the grade of abnormality (e.g. CIN2 and 3). Immature abnormal cells have greater potential to develop into cancerous cells than mature abnormal cells.
  • The thickness of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix – the grading for CIN cells comes from the thickness of immature abnormal cells within the ectocervix.

If your biopsy comes back positive it is because you have abnormal cells or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), you will have both abnormal mature cells and variable quantities of immature abnormal cells. Abnormal cells may develop into cancer so the quantity of these cells within the ectocervix is important. The grading of CIN is established according to the amount of immature cells within the sample taken.
This means that:

  • If you have CIN 1 the lining of the cervix has fully normal cells at the surface and the lower 1/3 has immature abnormal cells.
  • CIN 2: the lining of the cervix has norrmal cells at the surface and the lower 2/3 has abnormal cells.
  • CIN 3: the lining of the cervix has abnormal cells throughout it's entire thickness

All the results above mean that you have cervical abnormalities. This does not mean that you have or will get cancer. It just means that the laboratory has detected some changes to your cells that are abnormal and, if they are not treated, they may develop into cervical cancer in the future. 

"Results of Biopsy." Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. N.p., 19 Aug. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.