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What to Expect for a Gynecologic Cancer Screening

Sep 07, 2023

What to Expect for a Gynecologic Cancer Screening
With any type of cancer, early detection is critical for a positive treatment outcome. Find out what you can anticipate when you visit us for your next gynecologic cancer screening.

Gynecologic cancers are cancers of the female reproductive tract and are more prevalent than you might expect. The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 100,000 gynecologic cancers will be diagnosed in 2023, with almost a third resulting in death. 

Since September is gynecologic cancer awareness month, it’s a great time to learn about the screenings for these cancers which could save your life. Cancer screenings detect cancers long before they cause any symptoms, often before they’ve had a chance to spread. 

When it comes to cancer treatment, the earlier the better. Screenings empower you to discover cancer in its most early and treatable stage. 

The expert gynecologic oncologists at Arizona Center for Cancer Care can help you stay current with all of your screenings. Our offices provide cancer screenings and leading-edge treatment for all kinds of gynecologic cancers including:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Peritoneal cancer
  • Fallopian tube cancer

You can visit our offices in Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Anthem, Peoria, Fountain Hills, Wickenburg, Apache Junction, Sun City, Sun City West, Goodyear, and Tempe, Arizona. 

If you’re due for cancer screening, you might be wondering what to expect. Here’s what to anticipate ahead of your next gynecologic cancer screening:

Multiple types of tests

Gynecologic cancers aren’t all the same and neither are their screenings. Some gynecologic cancers do not currently have screening tests available. Unlike other cancer screenings, some gynecologic cancer screenings happen yearly or every few years and start when you’re young. 

Consider these three screening types for some of the most common gynecologic cancers:

Pap smears

A Pap smear checks for cell changes on the cervix that could indicate early signs of cervical cancer, a type that affects around 11,500 women in the United States every year. Experts recommend getting a Pap smear once every three years starting at age 21. From 30-65, you can get them every five years. 

During a Pap smear, your gynecologist collects a small sample of cells from the surface of your cervix using a brush or spatula. They transfer the sample to a laboratory where it’s examined for abnormalities. If there are any abnormal cells, further testing with a colposcopy is typically the next step. 

Pelvic exams

A pelvic exam isn’t a screening test per se, but gynecologists can often detect signs of cancer during these routine visits. They examine your uterus, ovaries, and other organs during the exam. You need to get a pelvic exam every year starting at age 21, and Pap smears can happen during the same visit. 

Endometrial tissue sample

An endometrial tissue sample is a method of screening for uterine cancer. If you’re at a high risk of endometrial cancer due to your family medical history, or if you have concerning symptoms, your gynecologist collects a biopsy from your uterine lining (the endometrium) to examine it for abnormalities. 

Your next steps

Just because your gynecologist finds something abnormal during a screening doesn’t mean it’s cancer. There are many other abnormalities that can occur in the many tissues of your reproductive tract. Our team typically recommends further testing to diagnose or rule out suspected gynecologic cancers. 

If they do detect cancer, our offices can provide top-tier treatment with helpful services like loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The team provides support and transparency at every step of the way so you can feel confident in the services you receive. 

If you’re curious about your gynecologic cancer risk or if you’re due for routine screening, call Arizona Center for Cancer Care or request an appointment online at your nearest office today.