Vignette: A 28-year-old woman goes to her physician complaining of a lump in her left breast that she discovered during a self-examination. The physician performs a biopsy and the tissue is sent to pathology. The pathologist notes that the cells are disorganized, have increased nuclear to cytoplasmic ratios, and exhibit increased mitotic figures. What is the term used to describe these cellular changes?
Dysplasia describes disorganized cellular growth and is often a precursor to malignancy. It is characterized by an increased nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio, increased mitotic figures, and architectural disarray within the affected tissue. Metaplasia (choice A) is not incorrect but refers to the replacement of one type of cell for another in response to chronic irritation or inflammation. Hyperplasia (choice C) refers to an increase in the number of cells, not a change in their appearance. Neoplasia (choice D) describes new, uncontrolled growth, but it does not specify the disorganized cellular changes seen in dysplasia. Anaplasia (choice E) is a term used to describe cells that are undifferentiated or lack the structural features of mature cells, often seen in high-grade malignancies.