Cervical CancerCervical cancer continues to affect women of all ages worldwide. The disease often presents no symptoms in its early stages, which is why it is often referred to as a “silent killer.” Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another through sexual activity. With the advent of the HPV vaccine and regular Pap screening tests, most cervical cancers can now be prevented. In 2017, it is estimated that nearly 13,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in the U.S. and more than 4,000 patients will lose their battle with the disease. Although the number of new cases has been declining over the past decades, thanks to Pap screening, cervical cancer is still the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide.
DiagnosisIn addition to a physical examination, the following tests may be used to diagnose cervical cancer: Screening tests include:
- Pap test
- HPV DNA test
- Punch biopsy, which involves using a sharp tool to pinch off small samples of cervical tissue
- Endocervical curettage, which uses a small, spoon-shaped instrument (curet) or a thin brush to scrape a tissue sample from the cervix
- Electrical wire loop, which uses a thin, low-voltage electrical wire to obtain a small tissue sample.
- Cone biopsy, which is a procedure that allows physicians to obtain deeper layers of cervical cells for laboratory testing.
- Imaging tests. Tests such as X-rays, CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) help the physician determine whether the cancer has spread beyond your cervix.
- Visual examination of the bladder and rectum. Physicians may use special scopes to see inside the bladder and rectum.