Genetic Counseling and Testing for Cervical, Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer
Certain genetic factors can increase your risk of cancer. Nuvance Health offers dedicated genetic counselors to discuss your family history and tests to assess your risk. Explore genetic counseling for cancer.
Cervical, Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer Symptoms
Cervical cancer usually produces no signs or symptoms in the early stages. More-advanced cervical cancer may include symptoms such as:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause
- Vaginal discharge that is watery and bloody (it may be heavy or smell foul)
- Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
Early vaginal cancer may not cause signs and symptoms, but as it progresses, it may cause:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, such as after intercourse or after menopause
- Watery vaginal discharge
- A lump or mass in your vagina
- Painful or frequent urination
- Pelvic pain
Symptoms of vulvar cancer may include:
- Persistent itching
- Pain and tenderness
- Skin changes, such as color changes or thickening
- A lump, bumps that look like warts, or an open sore (ulcer)
- Bleeding that isn't from menstruation
Early Detection of Cervical Cancer
Two types of screenings can help find cervical cancer and cells that may become cancerous:
- Pap test: Your doctor removes cells from your cervix and sends them to a lab for examination.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test: Your doctor checks whether your cervical cells are infected with any of the types of HPV that are likely to lead to cervical cancer.
In addition, Nuvance Health is among only a few local providers to offer pelvic sentinel lymph node dissection for cervical cancer.
Your lymph system carries infection-fighting white blood cells through your body, and lymph nodes help filter and attack germs. The sentinel lymph node is the first place that cancer spreads. Sentinel lymph node dissection is part of surgery to determine the stage of disease. It can also help us determine whether you need treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation.
Diagnosing Cervical, Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer
Pathologists with specific training in cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers use advanced technology to make a precise diagnosis. We perform:
- Colposcopy: Using an instrument with a magnifying lens and light (colposcope) to check for changes in cervical and vaginal tissues and take tissue samples.
- Pelvic exam: Examining the vagina and abdomen.
- Biopsy: Removing and testing a tissue sample. You may receive endocervical curettage, which involves taking a cervical tissue sample using a small, spoon-shaped instrument or thin brush.
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): Obtaining a cervical tissue sample using a thin, heated wire.
- Cone biopsy: Removing a cone-shaped piece of tissue from high in the cervical canal and examining it under a microscope.
To determine the stage of cancer, we may take detailed images of your organs, including:
- Computed tomography (CT): We take many X-rays from different angles to produce cross-sections of specific areas.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This procedure uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images.
- Positron emission tomography (PET): We use radioactive substances (tracers) to see how your body’s tissues and organs are functioning.
- X-ray: We use electromagnetic waves to create pictures of the inside of your body.
Cervical, Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer Treatment
We offer comprehensive treatment for cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers, including:
- Surgery to remove the tumor or affected organs. Learn more about cancer surgery.
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells or stop their growth.
- Medical oncology, a group of treatments that use drugs and other substances to fight cancer cells. Read more about chemotherapy and other medical oncology.
- Radiation therapy uses rays of energy to shrink the cancer or remove traces of cancer that remain after surgery. Explore radiation therapy.
- Supportive care may include assistance from social workers and therapies to reduce the side effects of treatment. Find out more about supportive therapies.
- Clinical trials can provide access to novel treatments not yet widely available. Learn more about clinical trials and research.
Advanced Surgery for Cervical, Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers
We can often operate using minimally invasive methods to ease your recovery, such as:
- Laparoscopy: We make small incisions in the abdomen and use a thin, flexible instrument with a camera on the tip to guide the procedure.
- Robotic surgery: Your surgeon uses a robotic system to assist in laparoscopic procedures. The robot allows us to operate using 3D vision.