Skip to Main Content

Cervical cancer

Diagnosis of cervical cancer

The most common way that cervical cancer is diagnosed is through an annual exam or gynecological exam. Before cervical cancer develops, abnormal cells will begin to appear in the cervical tissue, which is called dysplasia.

A Pap smear can test for precancerous or cancerous changes in your cervix.

If you have symptoms of cervical cancer, your doctor may perform additional tests to rule out other conditions or check how far your cancer has progressed. These may include biopsies or imaging scans like ultrasounds, MRIs, or x-rays.


Treatment for cervical cancer depends upon the stage.

If your doctor has identified precancerous changes in your cervix, you may undergo a minimally invasive surgery to remove precancerous growths. One example is ablation, which uses cold temperatures to destroy this tissue.

Other standard treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Targeted cancer therapy

Rarely, advanced cases of invasive cervical cancer require more substantial surgery such as a hysterectomy, which removes the cervix and uterus. This ensures that all cancer cells are gone.


Most people diagnosed with cervical cancer recover fully. Thanks to regular screenings and the HPV vaccine, cervical cancer is becoming more rare. Doctors are often able to catch it in the early stages.

While recovery time and outcomes vary depending on how early the diagnosis is and how localized the cancer is, research constantly advances. Already, 92 percent of people diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer go into remission.

Dignity Health provides compassionate and comprehensive cervical cancer screening and treatment, as part of our oncology services.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.