Screening for gynecologic cancer usually begins with a complete medical history, and physical and pelvic exams. During the pelvic exam, the gynecologist feels for any lumps or any changes in the shape of the uterus that may foretell a problem. The following tests may be used to diagnose gynecologic cancers:
- Pap smear: In this test, a doctor takes a sample of cervical cells, which he or she uses to detect changes in cervical cells—and possibly cervical cancer.
- Endometrial biopsy: This quick and painless procedure, usually performed in a doctor’s office, involves the insertion of a narrow tube into the uterus through the vagina and the removal of a small amount of tissue from the uterine wall. A lab then tests this tissue for cancerous or precancerous cells.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C): In this procedure, the doctor will widen the cervix and insert an instrument to scrap or suction the uterine wall to collect tissue. This is an outpatient procedure that usually takes about an hour and requires general anesthesia.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests are used when patients have medical conditions (e.g., high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes) that do not allow them to safely receive anesthesia. Imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan or ultrasound can help diagnose uterine cancer.