Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
A healthcare provider can make a diagnosis of cervical cancer based on symptoms, results of a Pap test, and additional tests and procedures. These procedures can include colposcopy, biopsy, and others. Each type of procedure will remove tissue from the cervix; this may cause bleeding and pain similar to menstrual cramps.
In order to diagnose a patient with cervical cancer, doctors will:
- See if the patient has possible symptoms of cervical cancer
- Review Pap test results, which may show precancerous cells (cells that are not cancerous but will likely become cancerous if left untreated) or cervical cancer
- Perform a physical exam
- Ask about the patient's personal and family medical history
- Recommend additional tests and procedures.
During the physical exam, doctors will examine the body for general signs of health and for signs of disease. The doctor will also ask for a history of the patient's health habits, past illnesses, and past treatments.
The exams and tests that are used to make a cervical cancer diagnosis may include:
- Punch biopsy
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)
- Endocervical curettage
A colposcopy is usually done in the doctor's office or clinic. In order to perform a colposcopy, your doctor will use a colposcope to look at the cervix. A colposcope is a large, electric microscope that is positioned approximately 30 cm from your vagina. The colposcope has a bright light on the end that makes it possible for your doctor to visualize your cervix.