September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month

All September long is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month. GCAM is used as an opportunity to encourage women to become more informed and aware about cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, ovaries, and uterus.

Early detection and prevention is KEY!

Gynecological cancers encompass all cancers of the female reproductive system, including the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vulva, and vagina. Unfortunately, all women are at risk for these cancers. In this blog, we explained each type of gynecological cancer, and listed the common signs and symptoms of each to look out for. Although typically in the early stages there can be no recognizable symptoms, we encourage all women who experience any health changes or symptoms listed below, to discuss with their provider on their next appointment.

Cervical Cancer:  Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is largely the cause of cervical cancer. The most common screening test to detect cervical cancer or precancerous cells (dysplasia) is the Pap test. During a Pap, your Provider takes a sample of cells from the surface of the cervix inside the vagina, and then sends the sample to be reviewed by pathologists in a lab. Routine pap smear exams are recommended to assess for cervical changes over one’s lifetime. Cervical cancer is almost totally preventable and HPV vaccines are now available for both girls and boys to help prevent developing cervical cancer over the course of their lifetime.  

Signs of Cervical Cancer:

 

Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer is a growth of cells that forms in the ovaries. The cells multiply quickly and can invade and destroy healthy body tissue. According to the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), ovarian cancer only accounts for about 3% of total GYN cancers, however, it causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer. Ovarian cancer is typically diagnosed at a later stage which contributes to its grim prognosis … only 20% are found at an early stage. Unfortunately there is no early detection test available for ovarian cancer. 

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

 

Uterine Cancer:  Uterine cancer is cancer of the uterus. The most common type, endometrial cancer, happens most often in women over 55. According to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer and the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) uterine cancer is the most common type of GYN cancer making up approximately 55% of all gynecologic cancers annually and coming in as the 4th most common cancer in women across the entire U.S. Risk factors for developing uterine cancer include women 50 years of age or older, obesity, taking hormone replacement therapy with estrogen alone, and a family history of uterine, ovarian or colon cancer.  

Symptoms of Uterine Cancer:

 

Vaginal & Vulvar Cancer:  Vulvar cancer is a type of cancer that occurs on the female genitalia. Specifically, it includes the area that surrounds the urethra and vagina, including the clitoris and labia. Vaginal cancer is a rare cancer that occurs in your vagina. Even though it is considered to be rare, the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) reports approximately 3,500 new cases of vulvar cancer each year followed by 1,000 new cases of vaginal cancer annually.  Both cancers can also be associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV). 

Signs of Vulvar Cancer:

Signs of Vaginal Cancer include:

How to lower your risk: Since there is no simple way to screen for any gynecologic cancers except cervical cancer, it is especially important to recognize the symptoms and warning signs and learn if there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Learn your family’s health history of breast or ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend genetic counseling and testing. It is not recommended for all women, but it is important for all women to know and tell their doctors about their family history. Talk with your doctor if you believe that you are at increased risk for gynecologic cancer. Ask what you might do to lower your risk and whether there are tests that you should have.

 

When it comes to diagnosing and treating gynecological cancer, you want a team of experts by your side that provide personalized treatment. Contact our 5 Star Rated Doctors at Bella Women's Care to schedule your consultation or Well Woman Exam on our next available opening. 

 

Author
Bella Women's Care Blogger

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