Objective: To define the relation between the size of a CIN 3 lesion (measured histologically) and invasive squamous carcinoma.
Design: Measurement of CIN 3 by computerized planimetry of histological sections from 39 cone biopsies containing microinvasive cancer. Comparison with previous measurements of CIN lesions, associated with different grades of dyskaryosis.
Results: Microinvasive carcinoma of the cervix is associated with extensive CIN 3 on the surface and in endocervical crypts. The mean size of CIN 3 lesions showing microinvasion is seven times greater than that for severe dyskaryosis without invasion, (P less than 0.0001) and a 100-fold greater than with mild dyskaryosis (P less than 0.00001).
Conclusion: Invasive squamous carcinoma of the cervix arises in large CIN 3 lesions and these are associated usually with severe dyskaryosis. We propose a model for the development of high-grade precancer as a small focus within low grade precancer which then undergoes expansion in size, accompanied by apparent progression in cytological grade.