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What tests are used to diagnose vaginal cancer?
Tests that examine the vagina and other organs in the pelvis are used to
detect (find) and diagnose vaginal cancer.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of
health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else
that seems unusual. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses
and treatments will also be taken.
Pelvic exam: 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 and places the other
hand over the lower abdomen to feel the size, shape, and position of the uterus
and ovaries. A speculum is also inserted into the vagina and the doctor or nurse
looks at the vagina and cervix for signs of disease. A Pap test or Pap smear of
the cervix is usually done. The doctor or nurse also inserts a lubricated,
gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or abnormal areas.
A procedure to collect cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina. A piece
of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from
the cervix and vagina. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if
they are abnormal. This procedure is also called a Pap test.
removal of cells or tissues from the vagina and cervix so they can be viewed
under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. If a Pap smear
shows abnormal cells in the vagina, a biopsy may be done during a colposcopy.
Colposcopy: A procedure in which a colposcope (a lighted, magnifying instrument)
is used to check the vagina and cervix for abnormal areas. Tissue samples may be
taken using a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) and checked under a microscope
for signs of disease.