Cervical Cancer Diagnosis & Detection
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Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our team of cancer doctors uses sophisticated, minimally invasive technology to detect cervical cancer, and to determine the type and stage of the disease.
During your first visit, you’ll undergo a comprehensive exam. This helps us formulate an individualized treatment plan that is best suited to your needs. If you’ve been treated at another hospital, we will perform several tests to ensure that you've received an accurate cervical cancer diagnosis.
Throughout your treatment, we will use diagnostic imaging and laboratory tests for cervical cancer that allow us to monitor how the disease is responding to treatment. If the cancer is resisting treatment, we will modify your plan or recommend using a different therapy.
How Is Cervical Cancer Diagnosed?
Cervical cancer often does not cause any symptoms in the early stages. Instead, it may be detected during routine screening, using the following tests:
- Pap Test: This is usually the first step in determining cervix health and is often done as part of routine screening, such as an annual OB-GYN exam. During the exam,
your doctor inserts a swab into the vagina and takes a sample of cells from the cervix, which are examined under a microscope. If abnormal cells are found, your doctor may order
additional diagnostic tests for cervical cancer and other diseases.
- Pelvic Exam: During a pelvic exam, your doctor manually examines the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and rectum.
- Colposcopy: During this exam, your doctor uses a special microscope, called a colposcoscope, to examine the cervix and identify areas for biopsy.
- Cone Biopsy/Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP): When Pap test and colposcopy results indicate cervical carcinoma, your doctor may perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. During this cervical cancer detection test, your doctor removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix using a surgical scalpel. During a LEEP, an electrified wire loop is used to remove the tissue.
For a small percentage of women with very early cervical cancer, this may be the only treatment that is necessary. For other women, chemotherapy and radiation is used after the biopsy.
Imaging and Diagnostic Tests for Cervical Cancer
Once your doctor has made a cervical cancer diagnosis, he or she may choose one or a combination of the following imaging tests to monitor the cancerous tissue and determine whether it has spread beyond the cervix:
Ultrasound - This imaging technology uses sound waves to create an image of your internal organs, including the cervix. The sound that tumors produce is different than healthy tissues, which helps us identify a cervical tumor. Your doctor will also examine the bladder and rectum using special scopes to determine if the cancer has spread.
Video: CT Scan Medical AnimationMedical animation
CT (Computerized Tomography) Scan – This imaging tool is one of the best modalities we have. A CT scan reveals a detailed, 3D image of the cervix and abdomen. After a physical exam and ultrasound have been performed, we use a CT scan to locate a tumor before surgery. We also use a CT scan to determine tumor size, what other organs might be affected and whether lymph nodes are enlarged.
Understanding the extent of the disease helps us formulate the right treatment plan before going into surgery.
Video: MRI Medical AnimationMedical animation
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – This imaging technique uses radiofrequency waves to create a detailed, cross-sectional image of the cervix and surrounding tissues. An MRI has much greater soft tissue contrast than a CT scan, making it especially useful in detecting tumors and metastases in other parts of the body.
After these cervical cancer detection tests have been performed, your doctor will discuss your options. In the early stages of cervical cancer, surgery is the first line of treatment. A gynecologic oncologist performs these surgeries and cares for a woman throughout cervical cancer treatment. For more advanced cervical cancer, a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy is the preferred treatment.
Next Topic: Cervical Cancer Staging