A biopsy involves the removal of tissue from the cervix to look for precancerous cells or cancer cells. Most women have their biopsy in their provider’s office. Sometimes local anesthesia or numbing medication is used. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to determine if there are any cancerous cells.
There are several different types of biopsies, including:
- A cervical biopsy where the provider uses a small, sharp, jaw-like device to pinch off small samples of cervical tissue
- A LEEP biopsy, where the provider uses an electric wire loop to slice off a thin, round piece of tissue
- Endocervical curettage, where the provider uses a small instrument called a curette, or a soft, thin brush to scrape a small sample of tissue from the cervical canal
- Conization, where the provider removes a cone-shaped sample of tissue
A LEEP biopsy and conization, or cone biopsy, allow the pathologist to see if abnormal cells are in the tissue beneath the surface of the cervix. A conization will typically take place in the hospital. Conization and LEEP biopsies can also be used as treatment to remove precancerous cells.
Removing tissue from the cervix may cause some bleeding or other discharge. The area usually heals quickly. You may also feel some pain similar to menstrual cramps, but your provider can suggest a medication to relieve this discomfort.