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Colposcopy – the key to the efficient diagnostics of cervical cancer

In many countries around the world colposcopy is offered as the ‘gold standard’ in examination in all patients, whose PAP test results have been changed, to precise diagnosis and further possible treatment. This method is also applied at Medical Centre ARS.

At Medical Centre ARS Female Health Department the colposcopy examination is performed by applying the state-of-the-art Olympus OCT- 500 colposcope with the extended high quality image magnification opportunities to ensure as far as possible accurate and early diagnostics and treatment of cervical cancer.

Dr. Jana ŽODŽIKA, gynaecologist, specialist in colposcopy, introduces to the cervical cancer diagnostics opportunities.

Why to participate in the cervical cancer screening programme?

In Latvia the morbidity and mortality rate from cervical cancer is still one of the highest in Europe, therefore we invite all the women of our country to use the opportunities of the cancer screening programme. Within the framework of this programme upon the attainment of the age of 25 the National Health Service sends an invitation once in three years for screening for cervical cancer, by ensuring necessary examination and treatment at public expense. The objective of the examination is to perform cytological analyses on a regular basis to identify on time the existence of precancerous cells. HPV-induced precancerous changes of cervical cells are not malignant, but, if untreated, in about 10 years they can turn into a malignant tumour. A cytological analysis is a common cervical smear. The tissue samples are taken from the cervix for the laboratory analysis of cells called cytology. Where the analyses reveal changes, they need affirmative diagnosis, then in-depth examination – colposcopy should be performed. Such examination is also assigned where during a gynaecological examination changes or bleeding of the cervix are detected.

What is colposcopy? How it is performed?

Colposcopy helps to precise whether there are precancerous changes in the cervix, to take tissue samples for analysis and carry out treatment. This is the procedure of compulsory precancerous diagnostics of the cervix. Examination is similar to a common visit to a gynaecologist. Colposcope is a microscope on support similar to a binocular – stands 20–28 cm away from the woman, without touching the body. The cervix is treated with a special liquid, which, while examining the cervix in certain magnification, helps to reveal where and how large are the cell changes.  Biopsy is made to affirm /exclude diagnosis – sampling of tissues, sending to the laboratory, where the existence of certain precancerous changes and the degree is précised. Colposcopy is painless, but might be a bit unpleasant.

If colposcopy is assigned, where to undergo it? How important is the doctor’s experience?

Colposcopy is a subjective evaluation method, therefore, it to a greater extent depends on the sensitivity, accuracy, quality of the colposcope and on the competence of the examiner. It is recommended to undergo colposcopy at healthcare facilities, which employ gynaecologists certified in colposcopy, who on a daily basis take care of a large number of women with cervical precancerous diseases, thereby maintaining their competence and service quality as well. Medical Centre ARS gynaecologists – colposcopy specialists each perform about 20 colposcopy procedures every week.

How the changed cells of the cervix are treated, whether treatment is carried out at a hospital?

Changes in the cervix are liquidated, minimally affecting healthy tissues. Minor surgery is performed at ARS day patient department, by using local anaesthesia and on the same day you can go home. The follow-up tests during the first year are made twice, thereafter once a year for 9 consecutive years, thereafter – once in three years.

For information:

Cervical cancer screening tests* must be undergone by women aged 25-70 years old once every three years.
*Analyses with the invitation letter from the National Health Service are performed also at Medical Centre ARS, it is necessary to pay just for consultation by a specialist.

Colposcopy examination is performed by:

More information of colposcopy examination is available on the website of the Latvian Society of Colposcopy