• Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN for short) is a pre cancerous change in the part of the cervix that juts into the vagina. This area, where the skin lining the cervix changes to the glandular lining of the cervical canal, is called the 'transformation zone'.

• A smear test that shows abnormal cells ('dyskaryosis') means GIN may be present on the cervix. Your gynaecologist will examine the cervix with a special microscope called a colposcope. If CIN is present, certain changes in the skin over the cervix show up after applying a dilute vinegar solution. CIN can only be diagnosed by taking a sample of tissue (a biopsy) from the cervix for microscopic examination.

• CIN is graded as 1, 2 or 3, depending on how the tissue looks under a microscope. Even CIN 3 is not cancer and is easily treated. However, if CIN 2 or 3 is not treated, there is a risk that cancer will develop. CIN 2 and 3 are called high-grade GIN.

• CIN 1 (low-grade GIN) is a minor pre-cancerous change that often goes away without treatment. It is not usually necessary to treat (remove or destroy) CIN 1 at first diagnosis. However, in some women, it slowly progresses to high-grade GIN.

• If you have CIN 1, it is very important to monitor your cervix with colposcopy and smear tests every 6 months or so. If the CIN 1 does not go away after 1-2 years, you may be offered treatment. If high-grade CIN (CIN 2 or 3) develops, you will definitely need treatment.