A Closer Look With Colposcopy
Has a doctor talked about performing a colposcopy recently? Every year, doctors screen thousands of women with the procedure. After undergoing a Pap test, there may be irregularities in the results. A colposcopy can determine if a woman has cervical cancer. Different tests can detect cancer, but colposcopy detects cancerous cells at even the earliest stages. Early diagnosis of cancer is essential for immediate treatment.
What is a colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a type of procedure where a doctor examines the cervix, vagina, and vulva. Colposcopies are painless, especially when compared to other screening tests like a Pap smear. This test aims to check if there are abnormal cells in the blood vessels. When the doctor performs the test and sees unhealthy areas in the cervix or vagina, the next step is to conduct a biopsy immediately. A biopsy helps to deliver more accurate results. The test also detects inflammation, genital warts, and abnormal changes that can also lead to cancer.
Why do women need a colposcopy?
Patients who need to undergo a colposcopy do so at the advice of doctors. A common reason is that a doctor detects a high-risk strain of HPV. Sometimes, a pap smear detects strains of human papillomavirus. Undergoing colposcopy will help determine if this is a high-risk strain of HPV. This could mean a case of cervical cancer.
An abnormal result
Some HPV test results show abnormal changes in the cervix cells. If this happens, colposcopy would be able to determine if the cells are either positive or negative from HPV. A positive result means genital warts are present, or the abnormal cells are already cervical cancer cells.
There are high-grade cervical cells
Not all abnormal cells lead to cervical cancer. If doctors detect irregularities earlier, these cells could go away with treatment. However, if high-grade cells are detected, cells could grow and spread quickly. Colposcopy would confirm if there are indeed cancer cells present.
When should I stop having a colposcopy?
Women with 3 consecutive negative results over 10 years no longer need the exam. In fact, after the age of 65, women no longer require cervical test screening. This is especially true if the test results show no cell abnormalities over the years.
Early detection saves lives
Colposcopy makes use of advanced technology in determining cervical cancer. There is minimal risk of having this procedure. In rare cases, women experience bleeding, fever or chills, infection, or pelvic pain. Ask an OB/GYN about cervical cancer screenings and colposcopy. The early detection of cancer or other conditions can be lifesaving.