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"Is a cytopathology consultation needed if I think I have cervical cancer?"


I talked to my doctor and am not sure but I think may have cervical cancer. I am 31. Do I need a cytopathology consultation?


Cytopathologist are doctors who specialize in looking at samples of individual cells, such as those that may be taken from the cervix. Patients do not consult directly with cytopathologists. Rather, they serve as consultants for your doctors who may take samples from you for them to analyze.

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If you are concerned about a potential for cervical cancer then the first step is to talk to your OB GYN doctor or your primary care doctor. Then, they will perform something called a paponicolau ("pap smear") which is a procedure in which they take a scraping of cells from the cervix. This scraping of cells is what is sent to the cytopathologist, who will look for any evidence suggesting the possibility of cervical cancer. Depending on what the cytopathology of the pap smear shows, if there is a higher suspicion that cervical cancer may be a possibility, then usually the next step is colposcopy, in which the cervix is examined under a magnifying lens looking for suspicious areas which might be further biopsied or treated with one of several procedures for removal. Start by talking to your primary care doctor or your OB GYN doctor and they will help you make a plan for moving forward.

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