Within the Sentara Cancer Network, our gynecological oncologists are always available for consultation with primary care and OB/GYN providers in the community. Because PCPs and OB/GYNs see their patients frequently, they are often the ones to find signs that further testing may be needed. In other cases, women who are experiencing symptoms such as pelvic or abnormal pain or abnormal bleeding, should see their PCP or OB/GYN as a first step. Working together, these physicians and the gynecologic oncologists will determine if a referral is needed. As part of the diagnosis process, the following exams or tests may be used to help rule out cancer, to determine if it is present, and if so, at what stage.

Pelvic Exam

A doctor may perform a pelvic exam to look for signs of vaginal cancer, such as lumps or changes in the vagina, or perform a biopsy to help diagnose vaginal cancer.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless test that provides pictures of organs and structures inside the body. It produces these images by using a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy. MRI does not use X-rays. 


PET/CT scans are a type of nuclear medicine imaging. A PET and a CT scan are performed at the same time with the same machine, providing a more comprehensive image than each could produce alone. A PET/CT scan is used often to image the heart, brain, liver or other organs. It is one of the most effective ways to study cancer.


Biopsy is the removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.

Genetic Testing

Family history of cancer, family history of positive BRCA1, BRCA2 or Lynch Syndrome may result in additional genetic testing.