Cervical Cancer - Diagnosis
The most common side effects of cone biopsy include cramping/discomfort and moderate or mild bleeding for a few weeks after the procedure. Patients should avoid sexual intercourse, tampons, and douching until the incision is completely healed, which may take several weeks. Patients should also discuss other possible side effects of cone biopsy prior to the procedure.
The advantages of cone biopsy are that it provides a large sample of tissue for analysis and it can sometimes completely remove the cancer so the patient does not need additional surgery. However, because complications from cone biopsy are possible, women should discuss all aspects of the procedure with their physician before undergoing biopsy. If a cone biopsy is recommended after abnormal Pap smear results, a patient may wish to ask if a colposcopy (looking at the cervix with magnification) or cervical biopsy would be an appropriate alternative for her (if they have not already been performed), based on her individual case.
If a biopsy has confirmed the presence of invasive cervical cancer, physicians may perform a number of tests to determine whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) past the cervix to other areas of the body. These tests may include:
- Cystoscopy: A small tube with a light on its tip is inserted through the urethra to examine the urethra and bladder. Physicians may perform a biopsy on this tissue to determine whether cancer cells are present.
- Proctoscopy: A small tube with a light on its tips is inserted through the rectum to check for cancer. A biopsy of this tissue may be performed to confirm that the cervical cancer has spread to the rectum.
- Pelvic examination: A thorough examination of the pelvis may be performed under general anesthesia to determine whether cancer has spread past the cervix.
- CT scan: Also called CAT scan (computed tomography), this exam combines the use of a digital computer together with a rotating x-ray device to create detailed cross sectional images of an organ or body part. CT is useful in determining whether cervical cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
- MRI scan: Also called MR scan (magnetic resonance), this exam uses magnetic energy and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of an organ or body part. MRI is useful in determining whether cervical cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes.
- Intravenous urography: Also called a intravenous pyelogram or IVP, this exam helps determine whether there are abnormalities in the urinary tract, which may be caused by the spread of cervical cancer cells to the pelvic lymph nodes.
Updated: June 9, 2008