The last thing a woman with abnormal cervical cells needs is confusion over what exactly she has: carcinoma in situ or CIN 3?

Is there a difference between CIN 3 and an actual malignancy?

“Yes. CIN 3 means the cells are looking abnormal under the microscope and without treatment may develop into cancer,” says Heather Bartos, MD, a board certified OBGYN, and chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Denton, TX.

“Cervical carcinoma in situ means that the cells are cancerous, and that they have not moved out of the location from where they originated.”

Carcinoma in Situ (stage 0)

The word “carcinoma” means cancer. So anything that has carcinoma in its name is malignant.

In situ means local or very confined, or in its original place.

So literally, carcinoma in situ is a cancer that’s still in its original place — and is at its most curable form.

What about CIN 3?

These are precancerous cells. They are not (yet) malignant, but as Dr. Bartos points out, can become malignant.

What is the “CIN” in CIN?

• It stands for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.

• CIN may also be referred to as dysplasia, which means cellular overgrowth.

• CIN 3 or III is a high-grade dysplasia — higher than the more moderate grade of II, which is more progressed than the mild form of I.

Dr. Bartos served as an assistant clinical professor of OBGYN at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences for several years and was a physician in the U.S. Navy for eight years.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick