Cervical cancer is a type of slow-growing cancer associated with high mortality rates. Early detection can enable lifesaving early intervention. Current cervical premalignant lesion detection methods suffer from both high miss rates and excessive referrals for unnecessary biopsies. Herein, coherent light backscatter and modifications in reflected white-light spectra were measured to specifically discriminate between cervical tumors and normal squamous epithelial tissues resected from a mouse xenograft model. The combined measurements resulted in 92% sensitivity and 93% specificity in discrimination between the two tissues. These methods can be used to develop a noninvasive portable optical probe for sensitive and objective detection of precancer and cancer epithelial lesions in the cervix and other accessible epithelial tissues.