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Diagnostic Services at the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program

Early detection is the best defense against gynecologic cancers.

At the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program in Pittsburgh, PA, you have access to advanced testing options for identifying gynecologic cancers at their earliest stages — even before you feel symptoms — when they're more treatable.

We work closely with gynecologic specialists and radiologists, and can electronically send your high-quality images to any UPMC physician, expediting your treatment options.

Tests and Procedures for Diagnosing Gynecologic Cancers

We offer the following diagnostic tests and procedures in clean, comfortable, private testing areas:

Pap smear

A procedure in which a doctor or nurse uses a piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick to scrape cells from the cervix and vagina.

A pathologist checks the cells under a microscope for signs of disease.

Pelvic Exam

An examination of the:

  • Vagina
  • Cervix
  • Uterus
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Ovaries
  • Rectum

During a pelvic exam, the doctor or nurse inserts:

  • One or two lubricated, gloved fingers of one hand into the vagina and places the other hand over the lower abdomen to feel the size, shape, and position of the uterus and ovaries.
  • One lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or abnormal areas.

Percutaneous biopsy

A procedure in which a doctor inserts a needle through the skin to collect a tissue sample for review under a microscope.

Endometrial tissue sample

A procedure in which a doctor takes a tissue sample from the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

A pathologist checks the sample under a microscope for abnormal cells or signs of cancer. You may experience some pelvic discomfort following the procedure.

Ultrasound (sonography)

A noninvasive test using high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time pictures of tumors.

For diagnosing gynecologic cancers, a specially-trained technologist may perform:

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

An imaging technique using a computer, a magnetic field, and radio waves to produce detailed images of the soft tissues in the body.

This test uses a special dye to produce more contrast and show more details.

CT (computed tomography) scan

An imaging procedure using x-ray technology and digital imagery to generate a precise, 3D image of a person’s body, revealing the location and shape of tumors.

Sometimes, this test uses a special dye that makes the images show more detail.

PET (positron emission tomography) scan

PET shows the rate at which your body breaks down sugar. Because cancer cells break down sugar faster than normal cells, a PET scan can determine any abnormal cell activity.

PET-CT scan

A PET-CT scan combines PET and CT imaging technologies to assist radiologists in:

  • Pinpointing the location of cancerous tissue.
  • Performing a biopsy, if necessary.

CA125 test

A blood test that measures levels of CA125, a protein that may indicate the presence of certain gynecological diseases.

Chest x-ray

A chest x-ray may be performed when a gestational trophoblastic tumor is suspected, as this disease commonly spreads to the lungs.

hCG test

A blood and urine test that measures the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) – a protein that indicates pregnancy. In cases where a gestational trophoblastic tumor is suspected, there may be abnormal levels of hCG.