Gynecological Cancers

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is cancer that forms in the tissue area of the cervix, the organ that connects the uterus to the vagina. It is a cancer that often times shows no symptoms but can easily be detected with a pap smear. Because of the lack of symptoms, doctors stress the importance of regular pap smears for early detection. Six out of ten cases of cervical cancer occur in woman who either never had a pap smear or waited five years between tests. Cervical cancer is most often diagnosed in women over the age of 30 and one of its leading causes is HPV, or the Human Papaloma Virus. While HPV will often times clear on its own in some cases it can overtime cause cancer. Prevention measures such as receiving the HPV vaccine, regular pap smears, not smoking and using condoms can reduce ones risk of developing cervical cancer.

Vaginal/Vulvar Cancer

Vaginal and vulavar cancer are extremely rare comprising only 1-2% of all gynecological cancers. Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina or birth canal and usually displays no signs but symptoms can be unusual bleeding or pain in the pelvis. Vulvar cancer forms in the outer parts of the female genital organs and symptoms include itching of the vulva, changes in color of the vulva, skin changes on the vulva such as a rash or warts or an open sore that does not heal. Because the symptoms of vulvar cancer can be caused by something else, it is best to see your doctor to rule out other possibilities. Treatment of these cancers is most effective when it’s detected early and women can reduce the risk of developing them by not smoking, practicing safe sex and getting the HPV vaccine.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is cancer that forms on the tissue of the ovary, a female reproductive gland that produces ova or eggs. Affecting primarily older women, 90% of the diagnosed cases are in women 40 years of age or older. Ovarian cancer attributes to more deaths than any other reproductive system cancer. Treatment is most effective when it is detected in its early stages.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include: Pelvic or abdominal pain, Back pain, Change in bathroom habits, Abnormal vaginal discharge & fatigue. If these symptoms occur every day for two weeks see your health care professional.

Factors that can contribute to ovarian cancer are age, difficulty getting pregnant or never giving birth and having breast, uterine or colorectal cancer. At this time there is no known prevention of ovarian cancer but you can reduce your chances of developing ovarian cancer by taking birth control pills for more than 5 years, giving birth or having a tubal ligation, the removal of ovaries or hysterectomy. Unlike cervical cancer, the pap smear does not detect ovarian cancer. Women need to pay close attention to their body and if they notice any abnormal changes, they should consult their physician.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is cancer that begins in the uterus, or the womb and is most common in post menopausal women. Symptoms can include abnormal bleeding such as bleeding after menopause, bleeding in between periods or periods lasting longer than 7 days. Other symptoms can be pain or pressure in the pelvis.

Prevention of uterine cancer includes maintaining a healthy weight, the use of birth control pill or a prescription for progesterone if one is taking estrogen replacement hormones. A pap smear does not detect uterine cancer instead women should be aware of the symptoms and see their doctor if they occur. A doctor may then conduct an endometrial biopsy, the removal of a small piece of the uterus lining, to check for signs of cancer.