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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.

An Introduction to Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

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.

Physical Exam and History

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.

Exams and Tests Used to Diagnose Cervical Cancer

The exams and tests that are used to make a cervical cancer diagnosis may include:
  • Colposcopy
  • Biopsy
  • Punch biopsy
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)
  • Endocervical curettage
  • Conization.
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.
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