Uterine cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women, but it can often be hard to diagnose. Diagnosing uterine cancer early can help ensure effective treatment and improve outcomes, so understanding how uterine cancer is diagnosed is essential. Learn about the different tests used to detect uterine cancer and their importance for early detection.
Biopsy is an important part of the process for diagnosing uterine cancer. It involves removing a small sample of tissue from the uterus, which is then sent to a laboratory to be examined by a pathologist. Traitable abnormalities in the tissue can provide valuable information regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options.
During a biopsy, the tissue sample can be obtained in several ways. A dilatation and curettage (D&C) is performed using a thin, hollow tube to remove cells from the uterus. Endometrial biopsies are where small pieces of inner lining are scraped out usually with a pipelle device. Alternatively, an imaging test may reveal an abnormality that warrants further investigation through a procedure called a hysteroscopy. In this technique, a lighted scope is inserted into the uterus to examine any suspicious areas closely. Biopsy results can help your healthcare provider decide on further treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery.During a biopsy, the tissue sample can be obtained in several ways. A dilatation and curettage (D&C) is performed using a thin, hollow tube to remove cells from the uterus. Endometrial biopsies are where small pieces of inner lining are scraped out usually with a pipelle device. Alternatively, an imaging test may reveal an abnormality that warrants further investigation through a procedure called a hysteroscopy. In this technique, a lighted scope is inserted into the uterus to examine any suspicious areas closely. Biopsy results can help your healthcare provider decide on further treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery.
A pelvic examination by a gynecologist is one of the most common ways uterine cancer is diagnosed. Gynecologists check for signs of abnormal masses, such as lumps or irregularly shaped growths in the uterus, during a pelvic exam. After confirming the presence of an abnormal mass, your doctor might recommend further testing to diagnose uterine cancer specifically.
Your gynecologist might also order imaging tests such as an ultrasound, MRI scan, or CT scan to help determine the size and type of mass in your uterus. They may take a sample of tissue from the uterus during an office hysteroscopy to look at under a microscope. This is a test that can confirm whether or not the abnormal mass is cancerous. Depending on your medical history, lifestyle, age and other factors, your doctor might recommend additional testing as part of diagnosing uterine cancer.
Some imaging tests can help doctors determine if a tumor is cancerous or benign. These tests create pictures of the inside of your body and help healthcare providers diagnose uterine cancer. Common imaging tests for uterine cancer include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET). Ultrasound can help your doctor measure the size and shape of a tumor and how far it has spread. CT scanners and MRIs provide detailed images of tissues, organs, and vessels within the pelvis and abdomen. PET scans are used to detect the metabolic activity in cells to distinguish between active tumors and inactive scar tissue.
Imaging tests alone cannot always determine if a tumor is cancerous. They can, however, help the doctor determine the size and shape of the tumor as well as how far it has spread. In addition to imaging tests, biopsies may be needed to diagnose uterine cancer definitively. A biopsy involves removing a small piece of tissue from the tumor or suspected area so that it can be evaluated by a pathologist with a microscope to determine if cells are cancerous or benign. With the help of these tests and examinations, your healthcare provider can accurately diagnose uterine cancer and decide on an appropriate treatment plan for you.
Endometrial Ablation or Biopsy with Hysteroscopy
An endometrial biopsy may be necessary to further investigate the presence of cancerous cells. The doctor will insert a device, called a hysteroscope, into the uterus to allow for better viewing from inside. After making sure that the medication is keeping you relaxed during the procedure, your doctor will take a tissue sample and send it off for lab testing. During this time, endometrial ablation may also be recommended if it looks like the tumor could be noncancerous. Endometrial ablation destroys the innermost lining of your uterus and may help reduce or stop abnormal bleeding caused by some types of tumors.
Along with biopsy, other diagnostic tests may be used to diagnose uterine cancer. These may include imaging scans such as an ultrasound or MRI and blood tests for tumor markers, which are proteins that can indicate if there is a tumor present in the body. Your doctor can also do a physical exam to feel for any abnormal growths or changes in the uterus or pelvic area. Depending on the results of these tests and examinations, more biopsies may be needed in order to further investigate any potential tumors that are found.
Colposcopy and Endometrial Biopsy
A colposcopy is a procedure performed with a specimen taken from the cervix, while a biopsy samples tissue from inside the uterine. The results of these exams can show whether cells have become malignant or look suspicious enough to require further testing. If cancer cells are found, the doctor will order additional imaging tests such as an ultrasound and/or CT scan to determine if the cancer has spread beyond the uterus.
After a physical exam and detailed medical history, Uterine Cancer is typically diagnosed by performing tests such as an endometrial biopsy. This test, which involves inserting a thin tube into the uterus in order to collect tissue samples, can help detect Uterine Cancer at an early stage. A doctor may also order a colposcopy, which uses magnification and bright light to look for changes in the cells of the cervix that could indicate cancer. Once it has been established that there is cancer present, further imaging is often recommended to determine if the cancer has spread beyond the uterus.