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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms


colposcopy  listen  (kol-POS-koh-pee)

  A procedure in which a lighted, magnifying instrument called a colposcope is used to examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva. During colposcopy, an instrument called a speculum is inserted into the vagina to widen it so that the cervix can be seen more easily. A vinegar solution may be used to make abnormal tissue easier to see with the colposcope. Tissue samples may be taken using a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette and checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Colposcopy may be used to check for cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva, and changes that may lead to cancer.