Cancer Screening Q & A
What are gynecologic cancers?
Gynecologic cancers are those that affect a woman’s reproductive organs. The most common types of gynecologic cancers include:
There is also the far rarer fallopian tube cancer.
Well-woman exams also include a professional breast cancer exam. While not a type of gynecologic cancer, breast cancer remains a serious women’s health issue.
What are the symptoms of gynecologic cancer?
Each type of gynecologic cancer has a specific set of symptoms. Not every woman experience symptoms in the earliest stages of cancer.
Most cases of cervical cancer present no symptoms, which is why Pap smear screening is so important. Some women experience abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge.
Ovarian cancer could present abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge, the sensation of pelvic pressure or fullness, bloating, frequent need to urinate, or pain in your back or abdomen.
Uterine cancer sometimes causes abnormal bleeding and discharge, as well as sensations of pelvic pressure or pain.
Vaginal cancer symptoms are limited to abnormal bleeding or discharge and a frequent need to urinate. Some women also experience constipation.
Vulvar cancer brings sensations of itching, burning, or tenderness in the vulva. Some women also notice changes in their vulva skin, including color changes, sores, warts, or rash.
Because these symptoms are commonly found in many gynecologic conditions, it’s important to see your specialist if you notice any changes.
What are the risk factors for gynecologic cancer?
There are different risk factors for various types of gynecologic cancer. Researchers believe that there are genetic risks for certain cancers, so your risk level rises if a close family member experiences gynecologic cancer.
Additional risk factors include:
- HPV infection
- Lichen sclerosus
- Hormonal supplementation
- Infertility or not bearing children
- Certain medications
- Diabetes or high blood sugar
As you can see, some of these risk factors are in your control, while others are not. Taking steps to embrace a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of gynecologic cancers, as well as cancers of all types.
If you’re concerned about troubling gynecologic symptoms or would like to discuss your risk level and screening options for gynecologic cancer, schedule a one-on-one consultation at Coeur OBGYN today. You can set up your visit using the easy online tool, or call to speak with a member of the administrative staff.