Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month
Comprehensive Cancer Centers, concurs with the Foundation for Women’s Cancer (FWC) about the importance of bringing awareness to gynecologic cancers including cervical, ovarian, uterine/endometrial, vaginal and vulvar cancer, during Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month.
Increased early detection and treatment are keys to improving treatment outcomes and saving lives. It is estimated that 98,000 women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer and some 30,000 will die from the disease this year. Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month provides an opportunity to draw attention to important women’s health issues, and offer vital information on risks, warning signs, and prevention strategies.
As the basis of this awareness month is to help women better understand cancers. To start, gynecological cancers are those that develop in a woman’s reproductive tract. These include cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer. The following provides more detailed information about each of these cancers:
Uterine Cancer – According to the CDC, uterine cancer (cancer which develops in the uterus) is the most commonly diagnosed gynecological cancer in the U.S. and the fourth most common cancer in U.S. women overall. While all woman can develop uterine cancer, it is most commonly diagnosed in women who have gone through menopause. Risk factors for uterine cancer include age (50 or older), obesity, taking estrogen as hormone replacement, as well as family history of ovarian, uterine, or colon cancer.
Routine testing is not recommended for uterine cancer, so it is important for women to be aware of symptoms which may include abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding and/or pain and pressure in the pelvic area and be sure to speak to a doctor if anything out of the ordinary occurs.
Ovarian Cancer – According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer accounts for only about 3% of cancers among women, yet it causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer. While the survival rates for ovarian cancer are excellent when the disease is diagnosed early, only about 20% of ovarian cancers are found at this early stage. One reason for this is that symptoms of ovarian cancer (abnormal abdominal bloating, abdominal pain or pressure, and feeling full quickly when eating) are often ignored or mistaken for other problems.
For women who experience these symptoms, or who at a higher risk (including women who have had breast cancer or have a family history of ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer), a healthcare provider may recommend further screening. Testing may include rectovaginal pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound, or a CA-125 blood test.
Cervical Cancer – Many cases of cervical cancer—cancer that develops on the cervix, the opening to the uterus—are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The majority of women with an HPV infection will not develop cervical cancer, but regular screening is essential. In most cases cervical cancer can be prevented through early detection and treatment of abnormal cell changes that occur in the cervix years before cervical cancer develops. These changes are typically detected through a Pap test or an HPV test. HPV vaccines can also prevent cervical cancer.
In its early stages, cervical cancer typically doesn’t have any symptoms, which is why regular screening is so important. At later stages, symptoms may include abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding or pain during sex. While these can also be signs of other health issues, if a woman experiences these symptoms, she should report them to her healthcare provider.
Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer – Vaginal and vulvar cancers are rare, with an estimated 1,000 women are diagnosed with vaginal cancer and 3,500 women with vulvar cancer each year. Like cervical cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancers are also associated with HPV infection, with up to 90% of vaginal cancers and pre-cancers and more than 50% of vulvar cancers linked to infection with the high-risk HPV types. HPV vaccines, which prevent some of the high-risk types of HPV, can also help prevent vaginal and vulvar cancers.
National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week
Also, a part of women’s health awareness in September, National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week marks the transition between National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of National HBOC Week is to raise awareness about hereditary cancer and support greater understanding of HBOC syndrome and the range of cancers associated with these cancers.
Public health experts estimate that 5% to 10% of cancers are inherited, and this number may exceed 30% for some cancers in certain population groups. The benefits of cancer genetic counseling, which is offered by Comprehensive, includes testing for individuals with personal or family histories of cancer who may not know their personal risk factors.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada provide a variety of treatment options for cancers that affect women. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.