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The Cervical Cone Biopsy Procedure

written by: Melanie Greenwood • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 7/25/2010

The cervical cone biopsy procedure is used to diagnose cervical cancer. Learn about the procedure, the risks and possible complications, and find help for dealing with a possible cancer diagnosis.

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    Why and How the Cervical Cone Procedure is Done

    The cervical cone biopsy procedure is done when there is a reason to suspect a woman has cervical cancer. Often it is performed after a pap smear detects Squamous cell cancer or adenocarcinoma cells (cervical cells that are significantly abnormal to suggest the pretense of cervical cancer) (MayoClinic, 2010).

    The procedure may also be performed if a woman complains of symptoms that can indicate cervical cancer, such as vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause, watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor, and/or pelvic pain or pain during intercourse. (MayoClinic, 2009).

    The biopsy is done under either general or regional anesthesia (which means that the patient is“knocked out” completely), or regional anesthesia (which numbs the patient from the waist down). Then a sample of cervical tissue is collected (WebMD, 2009).

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    Recovery and Follow-Up Care

    After the procedure is complete, the patient is taken to a recovery area, where she is observed by trained medical staff. The patient must usually wait between 1 and 4 hours before she can go home (WebMD, 2009), but she is almost never required to stay overnight in the hospital.

    After a cervical biopsy, mild-moderate vaginal bleeding may occur, but should stop within a week. Spotting blood or a dark brown discharge may occur for up to three weeks. Patients should not use tampons or have vaginal intercourse for about three weeks, and should not douche (WebMD, 2009). Any other instructions will be provided by the patient's physician.

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    Risks and Possible Complications

    While mild-moderate bleeding is normal after a cervical biopsy, severe bleeding is not. Severe bleeding can be fatal, and patients experiencing it should seek emergency medical care (WebMD, 2009).

    As with all surgical procedures, a cervical biopsy carries some risk of infection. Patients who develop a fever, yellowish discharge, or increased pelvic pain should contact a physician as soon as possible (WebMD, 2009). Other complications are rare, and include uterine perforation (a hole in the uterus) or incompetent cervix (which means that too much of the cervix is removed, which can cause problems in carrying a pregnancy to term) (MDGuidelines, 2010).

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    Help and Further Information

    Being tested for cancer is frightening. The American Cancer Society has resources to help patients cope with fear, anxiety, and stress of possible (or actual) cancer diagnosis. They can be reached at www.cancer.org, or 1-800-227-2345. Another resource is NowWhat.org, which is an Australian website geared toward teens and young adults, though any cancer patient can access it and take advantage of the services provided.

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    References

    MayoClinic Staff. (2010, 17 April). Pap Smear: Results. MayoClinic.com. Retrieved 23 July, 2010 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pap-smear/MY00090/DSECTION=results

    MayoClinic Staff (2009, 21 November). Cervical Cancer. MayoClinic.com. Retreived 23 July, 2010 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cervical-cancer/DS00167/DSECTION=symptoms

    MD Guidelines Staff. (2010). Cervical Conization. MDGuidelines.com. Retrieved 23 July, 2010 from http://www.mdguidelines.com/cervical-conization/complications

    WebMD Medical Reference Staff. (2009, 5 January). Cone biopsy (conization) for abnormal cervical cell changes. WebMD.com. Retrieved 23 July, 2010 from http://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/cone-biopsy-conization-for-abnormal-cervical-cell-changes