About GYN Cancer


Gynecologic cancers are diagnosed in a variety of ways. Surgical biopsy is typically required to confirm the presence of cancer. Your doctor may recommend a variety of interventions as part of the diagnostic process, depending on the kind of cancer which is suspected or found. The following procedures may be used as part of diagnosing each type of gynecological cancer.


Cervical Cancer

The following tests are typically used to help diagnose cervical cancer

·         Pap Test (Cervical cells are collected during a pelvic exam to look for abnormal or precancerous changes in the lining of your cervix);

·         Colposcopy (When pap test results are abnormal, your doctor may check your cervix using a magnifying lens—colposcopy—and collect and examine cells—biopsy—to determine whether cancer is present).


If the exams reveal precancerous changes in cells, such as abnormal tissue growth or carcinoma in situ, your doctor may remove tissue or treat the area using a laser. If the exams show invasive cancer, your doctor will order more tests to determine the extent of your cancer. These tests may include:

·         Physical exam of the rectum and anus;

·         Cystoscopy (Examination of your bladder and urethra using a lighted scope);

·         Rectosigmoidoscopy (Visual inspection of your rectum, using a tiny camera attached to a flexible tube, to determine if cancer is present);

·         Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan (Detects the spread of cancer beyond the cervix or to nearby lymph nodes);

·         Computed Tomography (CT) scan (Produces a series of two-dimensional images which can show whether your cancer has spread);

·         Pyelogram (A special dye is injected into a vein and an X-ray is taken of your urinary system);

·         X-rays; and

·         Blood tests.


Ovarian Cancer

Although there is no authoritative test to detect ovarian cancer, several procedures may help doctors diagnose the disease. Screening for ovarian cancer begins with a pelvic exam. The doctor examines the vagina, rectum and lower abdomen for masses or growths.


If the pelvic exam reveals growths on the ovaries, doctors can order tests that produce detailed images of the ovaries, as well as other tests and procedures which may include:

·         Ultrasound (High-frequency sound waves produce precise images of structures within your body);

·         CT scan (Two-dimensional images of your body are generated and can show whether the cancer has spread);

·          (PET) scan (Areas with altered blood supply are identified to help to locate cancers);

·         Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (Magnetic energy generates highly detailed images of your anatomy, including tumors);

·         Blood tests (For women who are at high risk or who have previously had ovarian cancer, doctors may use the CA125 blood test to detect a protein antigen found at abnormally high levels in the blood serum of women with ovarian cancer);

·         Exploratory surgery (Doctors may use exploratory surgery to confirm a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. They may use an instrument that permits a small incision—laparoscopy—or make a larger abdominal incision—laparotomy);


If cancer is present, doctors identify the type of tumor and check to see if the cancer has spread. They may remove and examine multiple samples of tissue (biopsies) within your abdomen and may remove lymph nodes, if necessary. The biopsies help doctors determine the stage and extent of the cancer so they may develop the most appropriate treatment plan for you.


Uterine Cancer

To determine if uterine cancer is present, your doctor will ask about your medical history and conduct a physical exam. During a pelvic exam the doctor will feel for lumps or abnormalities in your uterus.


Other diagnostic tests may include:

·         Ultrasound or Transvaginal Ultrasound (In a transvaginal ultrasound, a wandlike device, called a transducer, is inserted into your vagina and a video image of your uterus is created using sound waves) and

·         Endometrial Biopsy (Cells are removed from the lining of your uterus and examined in a laboratory).


If endometrial cancer or uterine sarcoma is found, your doctor may recommend exploratory surgery to determine the extent of the cancer.


Vaginal Cancer

Doctors diagnose vaginal cancer by careful examination of the vagina and cervix using a magnifying lens (colposcopy) and biopsy of tissue cells that may be cancerous. A complete physical and pelvic exam can help determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Your doctor may recommend other tests including:


·         MRI (Magnetic energy generates highly detailed images of your anatomy, including tumors);

·         CT scan (Generates two-dimensional images of your body and can show whether the cancer has spread);

·         PET scan (Defines areas with altered blood supply to help identify cancer);

·         Ultrasound (High-frequency sound waves produce precise images of structures within your body).

·         Cystoscopy and proctoscopy (A special instrument—a cystoscope—is used to look at the bladder, rectum and other organs near the vagina to see if the cancer has spread).


Vulvar Cancer

During a pelvic exam, your doctor will observe your vulva with a magnifying device (colposcope) and biopsy any suspicious-looking tissue for examination under a microscope.


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