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Vulvar Cancer
Diagnosis

It is important to note that if detected and treated early, vulvar cancer has a high cure rate. Therefore, it is essential that you visit your doctor for a definite diagnosis.

In making a diagnosis, your doctor will first review your medical history, ask about any symptoms you are experiencing and conduct a thorough physical exam. The following tests also may be performed:

  • Pelvic Exam — This test involves feeling the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and rectum to find any abnormality in their shape or size.
  • Ultrasound — This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and systems within the body. These waves, which cannot be heard by humans, create a pattern of echoes called a sonogram. Healthy tissues, fluid-filled cysts and tumors look different on this picture.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan — This is a method of body imaging in which a thin X-ray beam rotates around the patient. Small detectors measure the amount of X-rays that make it through the patient or particular area of interest. A computer analyzes the data to construct a cross-sectional image. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor or printed on film. In addition, stacking the individual images or "slices" can create three-dimensional models of organs.
  • Chest X-Ray — This X-ray provides pictures of the organs and structures inside the chest, including the heart and lungs and the airway leading to them, major blood vessels, and upper portion of the thin sheet of muscle just below the lungs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — This is a painless, non-invasive procedure that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to construct pictures of the body. Any imaging plane, or "slice," can be projected, stored in a computer or printed on film. MRI can easily be performed through clothing and bones.
  • Biopsy — This test involves removing a small piece of tissue for microscopic examination and/or culture, often to help your doctor make a diagnosis.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.