Even if you have the symptoms above, you should not conclude you have vaginal cancer. A Vaginal cancer diagnosis must be done and confirmed by a medical professional. Therefore, if you experience symptoms of vaginal cancer, it is important that you see your gynecologist immediately. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed and treated, the higher is your chance of surviving.
The following diagnostic procedures are often performed in vaginal cancer diagnosis:
Pelvic Exam – your doctor will do an internal vaginal examination to examine not only your vagina but also other organs of your pelvis to search for signs indicating a vaginal cancer. A speculum examination allows your physician to identify a tumor sometimes in its genesis or more often a bleeding ulcer, which may indicate the cancer.
Pap smear (Pap test) – a Pap smear is a simple and painless medical procedure allowing your physician to check for changes in the cells of your cervix. During the exam, your doctor will collect sample of cells from the cervix to be analyzed under microscope to search for precancerous transformation (dysplastic cells). This is a screening test rather than a diagnosis; the diagnosis is done through a biopsy.
Vaginal biopsy – this histological exam is usually performed under local anesthesia. During the procedure, the specialist collects sample of mucosa from the vagina by a pinch biopsy instrument for histopathological examination. This biopsy is recommended if your doctor finds suspicious vulvar lesion during the pelvic exam. Vaginal biopsy is especially necessary among older women in whom vaginal cancer is more common.
Colposcopy – this is an important examination in vaginal cancer diagnosis; it allows your doctor to examine your vagina using a binocular microscope (colposcope) that grows twenty to fifty times more the surface of your vagina. A colposcopy allows your physician to detect abnormalities in the vagina: precancerous lesions, cancerous growth, HPV infection, etc.
CT scan – this is an imaging technique that allows detection and visualization of abnormalities in the vagina by submitting the pelvic area to an x-ray beam. This technique is very important in the diagnosis of vaginal cancer; it gives precise images; thereby your doctor can detect whether the cancer is metastatic or not. However, repeated CT scan can be harmful to your body.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – with an MRI, your doctor can visualize organs inside of your body. In the case of vaginal cancer diagnosis, he can analyze the structure of your pelvis to look for abnormalities and highlight presence of a malignant mass. MRI not only allows your physician to detect the cancer but also to know the exact size and extent of the tumor.