By Dr. Gerald B. Parker, III, M.D., J.D.
Cancer of the cervix is generally diagnosed after signs are found in an abnormal Pap smear or Pap test. However, an abnormal test does not always mean cervical cancer. If an abnormal test occurs, more tests should be run.
How Do Doctors Detect Cervical Cancer?
Early signs of cervical cancer can also include:
- Abnormal bleeding in the vaginal canal while she is not on her period
- Abnormal bleeding in the vaginal canal after intercourse or after douching
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Painful intercourse
If a woman reports the symptoms above or has an abnormal Pap smear and general physical exam, doctors should perform a test called a colposcopy in order to detect whether cancer is present. This test involves the patient lying on an exam table while the doctor inserts a device called a speculum to see inside the vagina and cervix. The doctor uses another medical device called a colposcope to examine the cervix closely; it remains outside the body but has a magnifying lens to see the surface of the cervix properly.
A cervical biopsy can also be used to detect and diagnose pre-cancerous cells and cancers of the cervix. These biopsy procedures are called colposcopic biopsy, endocervical curettage biopsy, and cone biopsy.
According to Cancer.org, the key to surviving cervical cancer is to have a doctor detect it before it becomes what is known as a "true cancer."
Could Your Wife's Cervical Cancer Been Detected Earlier?
With all of that being said, there are a few ways that cervical cancer might have been detected:
- If the patient went through with all recommended tests following abnormal Pap smear results but the doctor determined that the tests showed no cancer, this was the fault of the doctor or pathologist. They may not have properly read the test results, whether it was during the original Pap smear or during the follow-up tests.
- The patient may have gone an extended period of time — months or longer — with an undiagnosed illness that the doctor or pathologist couldn't figure out. This illness might have caused weight loss and other signs of cervical cancer, along with pain, weakness, and lethargic behavior. The cancer might have spread to other parts of the body through metastasis.
Please note: If your wife is experiencing symptoms as described in this article, it doesn’t mean that she has cancer. There are several other medical illnesses that could cause these symptoms to occur. See a medical professional if she is seeing similar symptoms to the ones listed here.
If you believe your wife's cervical cancer could have been detected earlier than it was, you should contact our law firm. We review the results of all tests performed in the time leading up to a cancer diagnosis to determine whether a doctor or pathologist made a mistake by not diagnosing your wife's cervical cancer quickly enough. If we do find an error was made, we can help you decide your next steps.
The trick to surviving cancer is by detecting it early. Failure to see the signs and diagnose it means that a patient suffered needlessly and missed out on precious months or years of their life. If you believe a doctor missed the signs, contact us today for a free consultation.