Gynecologic Cancer Awareness by Ludmila Svoboda RN, BSN, MA, OCN
Happy New Year! We want to start the New Year right by empowering women in our community to take charge of their health by focusing on gynecologic cancer awareness this month!
Gynecologic cancers are malignancies which start in and affect a woman’s reproductive organs. The five main types are cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Each type of gynecologic cancer is unique with its own signs, symptoms, and risk factors. Cancer of the uterus is the most commonly diagnosed of these with ovarian cancer having the highest mortality rate. All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers and the risk only increases with age. Of all the gynecologic cancers, only cervical cancer has a screening test, the Pap test. Each year in the United States, approximately 71,500 women are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer. Of these, 26,500 women unfortunately die as a result.
It is important to pay attention to your body and to be aware of any changes or unusual symptoms. When you visit your primary care doctor or gynecologist for annual examinations, be sure to discuss any abnormal bleeding, discharge, pain, pressure, rash, sores, or changes in your bathroom habits such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Since cervical cancer is preventable and easily treatable when diagnosed early, Whittier Street Health Center wants to shine a spotlight on how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity and almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV and many people don’t know they are infected.
The most important take-home message is that each woman should have a yearly exam by her gynecologist and discuss any changes such as abnormal bleeding, discharge, pain, pressure, rashes, sores, bloating or changes to bowel habits. In addition, it is very important to share any family history of ovarian, breast, or other cancers with your doctor so that he or she may make recommendations with a much information as possible.
Here’s to a Health and Happy 2017!
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