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Vulvar cancer diagnosis

If your healthcare provider believes you may have vulvar cancer, you will need certain exams and tests to be sure.

You should expect to be asked questions about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors, and family history of disease. Understanding your background will help your provider make a diagnosis.

The first step is for the doctor to take a complete medical history to check for risk factors and symptoms. Then your doctor will physically examine you, including a pelvic exam and possibly a Pap test.

Following your physical exam, you may have one of the following tests:

  • Biopsy Tissue Sample. A biopsy removes tissue or cells to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if abnormal cells are cancer. Your doctor may perform this procedure in a variety of ways including bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, and needle biopsy. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.
  • Cystoscopy. This examination uses a lighted tube to check the inside surface of the bladder. Advanced cases of vulvar cancer can spread to the bladder, so suspect areas are removed for biopsy. This procedure can be done using a local anesthetic, but some patients may need general anesthesia.
  • Imaging Test. An MRI, X-ray image or CT scan may reveal any abnormalities that your healthcare providers are searching for.