Every woman should have a regular pelvic exam and Pap test, which tests a cervical cell sample for abnormalities. Together, these procedures detect cervical cancer 95% of the time, often long before the disease produces symptoms.
If your Pap test is abnormal, your doctor may test you again. Recently, some doctors have started to test for HPV at the time of Pap smear. If a high-risk type of HPV is found in women with an abnormal Pap test, doctors are more inclined to do a colposcopy (magnified exam of the cervix).
If a second Pap test is abnormal or the HPV test is positive, your doctor will visually examine your cervix by colposcopy and take a tissue sample (biopsy) of any apparent abnormality for evaluation. If the biopsy confirms cancer, further tests will determine whether the disease has spread. These tests might include:
Examination that should include inspection, palpation, colposcopy, scraping of the inside of the canal of the cervix (endocervical curettage). Possible evaluation of the inside of the uterus with a camera (hysteroscopy) may also be done.
A biopsy of the bladder and rectum that will look for cancer spread to nearby organs. This is done via cystoscopy (a scope is placed through the urethra into the bladder to sample cells) or proctoscope. (a tube placed into the rectum to inspect and biopsy).
Intravenous urography, a dye test to look at the urethra and bladder, looking for evidence of cancer spread.
Barium enema and proctosigmoidoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy, which uses a thin, tube-like instrument to evaluate the rectum and colon.
Chest X-rays to look for spread of the cancer to the lungs and skeleton.
Bone scans to check the bones for cancer spread.
Various radiologic tests that can be used to see the spread of the tumor: a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan that checks for spread into the chest or abdomen or pelvis.
Your doctor may also order many blood and urine tests and liver and kidney function studies.