Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

How is vaginal cancer diagnosed?

There are several tests used to diagnose vaginal cancer, including:

  • Pelvic examination – of the vagina and other organs in the pelvis, checking for tumors, lumps or masses (i.e., may include colposcopy).
  • Colposcopy – a procedure that uses an instrument with magnifying lenses, called a colposcope, to examine the cervix for abnormalities. If abnormal tissue is found, a biopsy is usually performed (colposcopic biopsy)
  • Pap test (also called Pap smear) – test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation. 
  • Biopsy – a procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the vagina for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.