Gynecologic Cancers: Are You at Risk?
Women don’t always recognize symptoms of cancers of the reproductive system, according to a recent study. And recognition of symptoms is crucial to getting early, life-saving treatment for cancer.
|What are gynecologic cancers?
Any type of cancer which starts in a woman’s reproductive organs is called a gynecologic cancer. There are five main types:
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer*
- Uterine cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
*Paying attention to subtle symptoms is particularly important for ovarian cancer, which causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. This is because ovarian cancer often is not found until it is in an advanced state.
Signs and symptoms are not the same for everyone, but there are some basic things to watch for, including:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Stomach or back pain
- Changes in bathroom habits
- Itching or burning of the vulva, the outer area of the reproductive system.
- Changes in vulva color or skin, such as a rash or sores.
Regular medical exams and tests are good ways to help find any cancer in its early stages.
|How can you prevent gynecologic cancers?
Here are some things women can do to help prevent gynecologic cancers:
- Starting at age 21, have regular Pap tests, which looks for cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately
- Have a HPV, or human papillomavirus, test which looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes
- Encourage younger women to have the HPV vaccine
- Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
- Don’t smoke, or quit if you currently smoke
- Use condoms during sex
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Know your family history of cancer and tell your doctor
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the most common gynecological cancer is also the most preventable. The institute estimates that about 70% of endometrial cancer (a disease of the uterus’ inner lining) is caused by women having excess body fat and not being physically active.
|Why come to MetroHealth for treatment?
“Our dedicated gynecologic oncology nurses follow our patients with physicians from day one, educating them extensively about the diseases and treatments and side effects,’’ said Pamela Haba, RN, OCN.
In addition, MetroHealth recently invested $5.4 million to shorten treatment times and improve accuracy of cancer treatments through advanced radiation oncology technology. Other benefits of choosing the MetroHealth Cancer Care Center include:
- MetroHealth has a special team for treating gynecologic cancers
- Our patients have access to many clinical trials
- MetroHealth has methods of making chemotherapy doses very accurate and easy to track
Learn more about the MetroHealth Cancer Care Center.