Cervical cancer screening can take several forms. These tests can examine the cervix to find and diagnose cervical cancer.
An exam of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts one or two lubricated, gloved fingers of one hand into the vagina. The provider feels the size, shape, and position of the uterus and ovaries. The provider will also do a similar inspection of your rectum to feel for lumps or abnormal areas.
The provider also inserts a speculum in your vagina to look for signs of disease. This includes a Pap test.
Pap Test/Pap Smear
This test collects cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina. A piece of cotton, brush, or small wooden stick gently scrapes cells from the cervix and vagina. We then view the cells under a microscope to see if they're abnormal.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) Test
This lab test checks your DNA or RNA for certain types of HPV infection. We check cells from your cervix for signs of an HPV infection.
We can do this test with the sample of cells removed during a Pap test. We can also do this test if the results of a Pap smear show certain abnormal cervical cells.
Using a curette, a spoon-shaped instrument, we collect cells from your cervical canal. We check these samples under a microscope for signs of cancer. Sometimes we perform this test at the same time as a colposcopy.
Cervical Cancer Screening: Colposcopy
This procedure uses a lighted, magnifying instrument called a colposcope. With this scope, providers check the vagina and cervix for abnormal cells. We'll then take tissue samples with a curette. Then we check the samples under a microscope for cancer.
If we find abnormal cells in a Pap test, we may do a biopsy. This involves cutting a tissue sample from your cervix. We then have a pathologist check the sample for cancer.
We can do two types of biopsy. You can have a small tissue sample taken in your doctor's office. If we need to take a larger sample, you'll need to stay at the hospital.
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.