Diagnosing cervical cancer
In most developing countries, cervical cancer causes the largest number of deaths among women who suffer from cancer. That is caused by the fact that the main cancer screening for detecting cervical cancer is rarely available and costly. Cervical cancer can be detected at a very early stage by performing a Pap test.
The pelvic exam is another way that helps determine if there is any abnormal development in the cervical area.
Performing these tests annually is very important for a woman’s health, since cervical cancer has no particular symptoms. Abnormal bleeding, discharges, or pain can be related to other causes than cervical cancer. Pap test results can tell a doctor if further investigation is needed in order to determine the nature of the abnormal development in the cervix. Therefore, additional tests have to be performed in order to accurately diagnose cervical cancer.
Such an additional test is the colposcopy. It is a non-invasive exam, that allows the medic to see the cervix more clearly, through a series of lenses. Following this exam, the medic can decide if a biopsy is needed. A biopsy is the analysis of a tissue sample, that can determine for sure the presence of cancer.
There are three types of cervical biopsies that can be performed in order to determine the nature of the abnormal cell development in the cervix:
One of the methods is colposcopic biopsy. After examination, a small section of the abnormal tissue in the cervix is prelevated with a special forceps. It is a procedure that may require local anesthesia.
Another method of performing a cervical biopsy is by endocervical scraping. This is applied when the problem area cannot be fully observed with a colposcope. In this case, a special tool (curette) is used to get tissue sample from the cervical area most closest to the uterus.
The third method of performing a biopsy is cone biopsy, and consists of the removal of a tissue sample from the cervix in the shape of a cone. It is a method that can be used also to completely remove the abnormal tissue, and if the cancer is in a very early stage, it can be the only treatment needed. Still, there is the following downside of increased risk of premature birth.
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