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What tests might your gynecologic oncologist perform to determine treatment?

Your treatment will depend in part on the stage of your cancer, so you may need tests to determine how far the cancer has spread. You might need any of the following tests:

  • Biopsy. In this procedure, a sample of tissue is taken to check for abnormal cells. You may need a biopsy of the cervix or the vulva, as these are areas that vaginal cancer commonly spreads to or from. A biopsy can be done as an outpatient procedure in the doctor’s office, or, if a more extensive amount of tissue is needed, can be done in the hospital.
  • Cystoscopy. In this procedure, a narrow tube containing a light and a viewing lens is inserted through the urethra into the bladder, to check for abnormal areas. The cytoscope may also be used to take a biopsy of abnormal cells.
  • Proctoscopy. In this procedure, a narrow tube containing a light and a viewing lens is inserted into the rectum to check for abnormal areas. A proctoscope can also be used to take a biopsy of abnormal cells. Chest X-ray, to determine whether the cancer has spread into any of the organs or bones in your chest
    CT or CAT scan, also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography. To do a CT scan, a dye must either be swallowed or injected into a vein. The dye helps certain organs to show up better in X-ray images.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, sometimes called a nuclear magnetic resonance imaging scan (NMRI). This procedure uses a magnet, radio waves and a computer to make pictures of areas inside the body.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. In this procedure, radioactive glucose or sugar is injected into a vein. The PET scanner takes pictures of places where glucose is being used up in the body at a greater rate. Cancer cells look brighter in PET scan images because cancer cells are more active, grow and spread faster, and use more glucose than normal cells do.

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