As to other cancers, early diagnosis is important to successful treating and cure.
- Pap smear: it is a regular, quick and painless pelvic examination for the screening of cervical cancer, especially in the early stage.
- Colposcopy: The cervix is stained with a harmless dye to allow easier identification of any abnormal-appearing tissue that may need biopsy. These abnormalities may be a precancerous lesion that can lead to cancer.
- Biopsy: A cervical biopsy is usually done and analyzed under a microscope by a pathologist to looking at the cells and tissues
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): Sometimes, a larger biopsy is needed to definite diagnosis. The LEEP technique takes a sample of tissue from the cervix by an electrified loop of wire.
- A cone biopsy: cone biopsy is performed under anesthesia. It results in tissue samples in which the types of cells and how much they have spread to underlying areas can be more fully determined.
According to the abnormal changes in the cells on the cervical surface, precancerous changes are mostly called squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL). “Lesion” refers to abnormal tissue; “intraepithelial” means the lesion is present only in the surface layer. Precancerous changes can be divided into 2 categories:
- Low-grade SIL: It is also called mild dysplasia or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 1 (CIN 1). These changes often occur in women aged 25-35 years but can appear in women of any age.
- High-grade SIL: These changes are also called moderate or severe dysplasia, CIN 2 or 3, or carcinoma in situ (CIS). They develop in women of 30-40 years but can occur at any age. Most of precancerous cells constitute a high-grade lesion.
Precancerous changes, even CIN 3, usually do not progress to cancerous or invade deeper layers of the cervix for many months, perhaps years.
When precancerous changes invade deeper layers of the cervix or other tissues or organs, cervical cancer, or invasive cervical cancer is happened. It often occurs in women of 40 years or older.
If the biopsy shows invasive cancer, a series of tests will be performed to see how much the cancer spread.
- Chest x-ray: spread to the lungs.
- Blood tests: indicate whether the liver is involved
- Special x-rays or a CT scan: used to look at the bladder.
- The vagina and rectum
These tests are used to define the cancer stage.
- Cervical cancer Staging is based on the size and depth of the cancerous lesion, as well as degree of spread
- Cervical cancer is staged from stage 0 (least severe) to stage IV (metastatic disease, the most severe).
- By finding out the cancer stage, a reasonable guess about the prognosis and the kind of treatment that you will need will be made by your doctor.