What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer often does not have symptoms in its early stages. Because there are few signs in the early stages, it’s important to have regular cervical cancer screenings.
If symptoms do appear, they may include:
- Pelvic pain.
- Pain or bleeding during or after sex.
- Unusual vaginal discharge.
- Bleeding in between menstrual periods.
- Bleeding after menopause.
How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
If one of your Pap tests comes back with abnormal results, your doctor will likely recommend additional diagnostic tests, including another Pap smear or liquid-based cytology.
Other diagnostic tests may be used, including:
- Biopsy - During a biopsy, a health care provider will remove a tiny piece of tissue from a suspicious area and a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to see if it has cancerous cells.
- Colposcopy - During this test, your doctor will use a lighted instrument with magnifying binoculars (colposcope) to examine your cervix. Your doctor may also do a biopsy during the colposcopy.
- Endocervical curettage - This test involves taking cells or tissue from the cervical canal using a spoon-shaped tool called a curettage. Pathologists then view the tissue samples under a microscope to check for abnormalities. This may be done the same time as a colposcopy.
- Cone biopsy (conization) - If tests show abnormal cells but it is not clear whether you have cancer, your doctor may remove a larger piece of tissue from the cervix. This procedure, called a cone biopsy, may also be used as early treatment for cervical cancer to remove any cancerous or precancerous cells.
If your doctor believes your cancer may have spread, he or she may also order imaging tests, such as x-rays, CT scans or MRIs.
Gynecologic oncologists at Miami Cancer Institute also work closely with specialists in our next-generation genomic sequencing laboratory to help pinpoint your exact type of tumor and the most effective way to treat the cervical cancer.
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