In a new study, researchers reported a single test for women could help predict which cases of the precancerous cervical disease will become more serious.
This can help doctors make decisions on whether or not surgery is needed.
The research was led by the Queen Mary University of London.
For thousands of young women who receive a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia, the decision on how to proceed can be uncertain, confusing, and difficult.
In the majority of cases, moderate cervical dysplasia (also called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2, CIN2) will resolve itself, but some of these women will go on to develop cervical cancer.
Women with moderate dysplasia may face a choice between undergoing prompt treatment, or short-term surveillance.
In the UK most women with moderate dysplasia are advised to undergo surgery without delay, but this has a risk for the outcome of future pregnancies, including miscarriages and premature deliveries.
Until now there has been no test to show whether or not their cervical disease will progress.
In the study, the team looked at different options for these young women.
They found a test that was able to identify which women with moderate dysplasia are actually at high risk of their disease going on to severe dysplasia (CIN3).
They tested 149 women in Finland aged around 26 with identified CIN2.
It showed that the S5 DNA methylation test is the best predictor of whether a moderate cervical disease will progress to CIN3.
The single test performed much better than the methods currently used to monitor the existing disease.
The study shows that most women with moderate dysplasia can be followed without treatment until their disease resolves.
The team believes this finding has important global implications for the treatment of millions of young women with cervical disease.
The researchers hope that this discovery will lead to a major change in medical practice, with more active surveillance and fewer surgical interventions.
This could also bring cost savings, both for the treatment itself, and the possible costs of caring for premature infants.
The lead author of the study is Emeritus Professor Attila Lorincz from the Queen Mary University of London.
The study is published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
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