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.
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 vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, 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 a special dye containing radioactive tracers to check for disease.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sentinel lymph node mapping allows the surgeon to detect the spread of cancer cells to the lymph nodes without long-term side effects like chronic leg swelling (lymphedema).
- 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.
Fertility Sparing Procedures
Often women diagnosed with cervical cancer have not completed childbearing or would like the option of becoming pregnant in the future. Our specialists can often offer fertility-sparing treatments to allow patients to plan for future pregnancies.