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Weill Cornell Cancer Center

Detection and Diagnosis

The Pap test is a routine screening exam that can often diagnose cervix cancer. In fact, the Pap test was developed by Dr. George Papanicolaou in the mid-1900s during his tenure at Cornell University Medical College.

Women up to age 30 should get an annual Pap test. After age 30, women who have had three negative or satisfactory annual Pap tests may be screened every two to three years. The Pap test can detect precancerous cervical growths. Early detection and removal of precancerous cervical growths can often prevent cervical cancer.

There are no routine screening tests for other gynecologic cancers. When cancer is suspected, tests used to diagnose them include:

  • pelvic examination
  • pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound
  • tissue biopsy (may be done in a doctor's office for cervical or endometrial biopsy)

Once cancer is diagnosed, imaging tests such as computed tomography, positron emission tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging may be used to determine the extent of cancer spread. Women with ovarian cancer also have periodic blood tests for the CA-125 protein to assess cancer spread and response to therapy.

All of these tests are available at the Weill Cornell Cancer Center.

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