Monday, September 17, 2012

Gynecological Cancer in the News

September is the Gynecologic Cancer National Awareness Month and Ovarian Cancer National Awareness Month. Gynecologic cancer is a group of cancers that primarily affect the tissue and organs of the female reproductive system. Each type of cancer is named after the organ in which it originates. Besides Ovarian, other types of gynecologic cancer include:
Symptoms vary for each of these diagnoses, depending on the location of the cancer. That said, a general overview of symptoms for these types may include:

  • pelvic pain
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • vaginal bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
  • persistent abdominal swelling or bloating
  • unintended weight gain or loss
  • persistent bowel changes, like diarrhea or constipation
Just like the symptoms, risk factors and prevention methods for each type of gynecologic cancer can vary. However, there are some prevention methods that can make a difference in several different types.

Reduce your HPV risk: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted virus that has been linked to a number of different cancers. Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections, with just two HPV types, 16 and 18, responsible for about 70 percent of all cases. Types 16 and 18 have also been found to cause close to half of vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancers (More info on the link between HPV and cancer can be found here.)

Get a regular Pap smear. Getting a regular Pap smear is a highly effective way to reduce your risk of cervical cancer. The Pap smear is a simple test that can detect abnormal cervical changes long before they become cancerous. The key to the effectiveness of the Pap smear is having it done regularly. How often you need a Pap smear varies from woman to woman, based on age, previous pap smear results, and your cervical cancer risk factor.

Avoid smoking. We know that tobacco use increases the risk of both ovarian and cervical cancers, in addition to the numerous other non-gynecologic types research has found a link to. In addition, it is linked to a growing list of non-cancerous diseases and conditions. The evidence is clear - if you don't smoke, don't start... and if you do, quit.

Some information used in this article was found here.

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