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How is cervical cancer diagnosed?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
There are several tests used to diagnose cervical cancer, in addition to a general physical examination. The first thing, and probably most important one, is a pap test. These are done at regular gynecological screenings and are most effective at finding irregular or slightly abnormal cells before they develop into invasive cervical cancer. Young women should begin seeing an OB/GYN by the time they are 21 years old or soon after they become sexually active.
If pre-cancerous or cancerous cells are found after a pap test, then additional tests may be needed to determine the extent and location of the cancer. A test for DNA of the HPV virus, which causes cervical cancer, may also be used along with or in place of a Pap test. During a pelvic exam, your doctor may use a special scope to try to see where the cancer is. Different types of biopsies may be performed, removing a sample of the cervical tissue to examine under a microscope. If the cancer is found to be extensive, an MRI or a CT scan will help your doctor get a better visual idea of how far the cancer may have spread into other organs.

Continue Learning about Cervical Cancer

How Frequently Should I Get a Pap Smear to Screen for Cervical Cancer?
How Frequently Should I Get a Pap Smear to Screen for Cervical Cancer?
When Should Women Start Being Tested for Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?
When Should Women Start Being Tested for Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.